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Journalists narrowly escape death

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Independent Newspapers

Reporter Giordano Stolleys car is engulfed in flames after it was set alight during a violent protest in KwaMashu, Durban, on Sunday. Picture: Patrick Mtolo

Durban - Police were unable to contain violent clashes between National Freedom Party (NFP) members and IFP supporters in KwaMashu, Durban, on Sunday.

Sapa reporter Giordano Stolley, whose car was torched in the unrest, said there was not enough policing to contain the unrest.

“There were too few people [police] for the tensions that existed,” he said.

Stolley estimated that about 100 police officers were present at the scene where NFP leader Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi was prevented from entering KwaMashu’s A-section to speak to supporters.

“I could see something was happening about 500m down the road. I believed I had parked well away from the trouble and walked down the road taking pictures,” he said.

Reporters Bawinile Ngcobo, of Isolezwe, and Mpume Madlala, of the Daily News, had been given a lift by Stolley and he had left them in the vehicle.

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“I turned to see if the girls were all right and that’s when I saw something was happening. The next thing my car was in flames,” he said.

A mob had begun pelting the car with rocks and the two women leapt out just before the vehicle was set alight.

“As I ran, all I could think was this is what it must have been like in those early days [of political unrest]. I was terrified,” said Ngcobo.

“They were stoning the cars as they went past. Windows were smashed, there was glass and smoke everywhere, people were shouting. Then this big guy came and asked us whose car it was. Mpume told me to get out and run. They started stoning Gio’s car before pushing it into the road. When we looked back, it was on fire. It was terrifying. I just kept thinking, ‘How can they do this in front of the police?’”

Stolley said he had lost two hard drives and a new laptop in the blaze.

KaMagwaza-Msibi, whom the mob prevented from visiting the hostels, said she had been terrified and shocked.

“This is the first time I have experienced this. Cars are damaged, people are hurt, now everyone can see the IFP for what it really is,” she said.

Police spokesman Vincent Mdunge said police managed to quell the violence. He confirmed that a case of public violence and another of malicious damage to property had been opened.

IFP spokesman Mdu Nkosi said the party sympathised with Stolley. “For now, we can’t take the blame or deny it.

“In those hostels there are people… who don’t belong to political parties… they might have taken the opportunity to do criminal acts hiding under politics,” said Nkosi.

He said the IFP would investigate the incident. - The Mercury


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