Armed cops protected Mantashe in ECape

Johannesburg - The ANC on Friday declined to comment on reports that ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe had to be protected by armed police officers during an election campaign in Sterkspruit, in the Eastern Cape.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. File photo: Boxer Ngwenya. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

“I was not there and I have not even spoken to him,” African National Congress spokesman Jackson Mthembu said.

“So I can't comment until I've spoken to him. And if there is a need to release a statement then we will.”

The Dispatch Online reported that the rally took a volatile turn in Sterkspruit on Thursday when Mantashe visited. It reported that two groups, each about 400-strong, shouted and cursed each other.

One person yelled: “You are thieves, we will not vote for Nkandla.”

Another shouted: “Gwede does not care for us. We are not his sheep.”

The Dispatch Online did not clarify how it had become volatile.

Mantashe told the publication he was excited to be in the area.

“There was no hostile grouping. Actually I was excited that we blitzed the whole town.

“We didn't run away from them, we asked them to bring a delegation we can talk to. They have not (done so),” he was quoted as saying.

“When you do not want to talk, but instead disturb ANC programmes, we say you are working with the opposition. It's like someone riding a donkey backwards, they look like they are coming towards us (ANC) but in fact they are walking away.” - Sapa