I will definitely do it again – these were the words of a young DA supporter who had to get 11 stitches after she was struck by a brick during the DA’s youth-subsidy march on Tuesday.
Dikeledi Selowa, 21, of Atteridgeville, said her first thought as she fell to the ground was to protect her camera.
“At first, I did not realise what had happened. As I fell to the ground, journalists and photographers were taking photographs of me and I thought that was rather cool. My entire body went numb and it was only when I felt the blood running down my face that I realised I had been injured,” she said.
Selowa explained she would not think twice about marching again.
“The youth-subsidy march is a good thing. Young people who have worked hard to obtain their degrees are unemployed because they have no experience. How are we supposed to gain experience if no-one wants to employ us?
“Cosatu reckons that youngsters will be exploited by companies and that well established employees will be disregarded. This is not true. The youth needs to be given a chance to start somewhere. Any young person my age knows their rights. How will we be exploited,” she asked.
Selowa is a second year BA fine arts and political studies student at Wits. She joined the DA last year and became a member of the DA Students Organisation (Daso). “My mother is a domestic worker and my father is a taxi driver.
I don’t want to work hard, get my degree and then end up sitting at home because I have no experience,” she said.
Selowa said she woke up at about 5am on Monday to prepare for the march. She travelled from Atteridgeville to Wits campus where she joined fellow Daso members.
Selowa said she had planned to take photographs of the march which she intended using for an art project. “I had this idea of the Bang-Bang Club in my mind. I envisioned these great photographs. The violence started about 15 minutes into the march,” she said.
“As soon as we turned into Jorissen Street, rocks started flying. Photographers started running towards Cosatu members and I joined in. We were ducking and diving while taking photographs. I was right there when the Mail and Guardian journalist was injured.
“Posters, papers and bricks were flying through the air. Some of the DA members were retaliating and we were told to stand strong and not retaliate,” she said.
She explained she got hit somewhere in between the chaos.
“There were so many people around me.
“I only started crying once I was back on my feet and had a drink of water. I literally did not know what had hit me and my body was still numb,” she said.
She said her parents were very supportive. “My mom was joking about it, making me feel better. My dad was actually the one who cried up when I got home. He was so worried and even went to work late today to make sure I was okay,” she said.
Selowa was taken to the Hillbrow medical centre shortly afterwards where she was treated.
“The doctor was very supportive, however the nurses talked among each other and I heard one say ‘we did you justice today DA’.’”
A man who was in the emergency room said: “The ANC will rule till Jesus comes. The DA cannot make a difference. Don’t you cry no; this is the price of democracy.”
Selowa said she did not argue. “There is no point arguing with ignorant people. I am one of those people who will stand up and do something. I want to be involved and I can make a difference,” she said.
Meanwhile, the DA has laid charges of incitement of violence, intimidation and illegal gathering against Cosatu, party national spokesman Mmusi Maimane told Sapa.
“We hope first of all that we must all accept the rule of law, and we must accept that everything we do must be within legal parameters,” Maimane said.
Rocks and pieces of cement flew in a confrontation between DA and Cosatu supporters in Braamfontein on Tuesday. Police used teargas and water cannons to disperse Cosatu members, who stopped the DA from protesting outside its headquarters.
Maimane said Cosatu had behaved “undemocratically”.
“They (Cosatu) came out in their numbers, holding an illegal march, and holding in contempt the idea that the youth wage subsidy should be considered.”
Cosatu was not contesting the youth wage subsidy because it had not come up with an alternative, he said. “They have made it a contest of people, a contest of class.
“For the benefit of our democracy, we must make it a contest of ideas.”
A working environment must be created which could address the concerns of South Africa's young people.
“The issue we are going to fight for is that people must be employed,” Maimane said.