A police constable has testified that he saw former Abahlali base Mjondolo secretary-general, Bandile Mdlalose, throw a stone at a municipal bakkie in a protest in 2013.
Mdlalose, 27, who appeared before the Durban Magistrate’s Court for the third time on Thursday, is accused of unlawfully assembling in Cato Manor with 70 to 100 people to disturb the peace.
It is alleged she led a group of shack dwellers in placing burning tyres on Vusi Mzimela (Ballair) Road, throwing objects at the police and obstructing them in the exercise of their duties.
Mdlalose, of KwaMakhutha in Isipingo, has pleaded not guilty to inciting public violence.
On Thursday, the State called its third witness, Constable Valen Govender of the Public Order Policing Unit in Durban.
Govender, who arrested Mdlalose, said members of the unit arrived at the scene early on September 30 to relieve the night shift team.
He said the road was “totally” blocked with rubble and burnt tyres, stopping traffic.
“At that point we were told to monitor, not to take any action,” said Govender.
The group of protesters grew larger.
“We couldn’t apprehend or arrest even a few. They ran into the shacks where we couldn’t see (them),” said Govender.
He said that seven hours later they stopped the protesters at the intersection of King Cetshwayo (Jan Smuts) Highway and Vusi Mzimela Road.
“At the corner, three police officers were confronted by a female, Bandile Mdlalose, the organiser and convener of the protest.”
Govender said police asked Mdlalose to tell the crowd to move away from the road.
Mdlalose’s advocate, Sarah Jane Linscott, told the court earlier that Mdlalose had been present to try to keep the peace during the protests and had gone to offer sympathies to the family of Nqobile Nzuza, 17, who had been shot dead, allegedly by police, that day.
Govender told the court that Mdlalose had said in a police statement that “as the organiser” she could not tell protesters what to do.
“That clearly indicated her as the organiser,” said Govender. “The accused then went to the crowd, dancing and singing. She spoke in Zulu. I believe she was telling them to sit down.”
Govender said two warrant officers, whom he named as Mdlozi and Ndlovu, gave the crowd an opportunity to move from the road before a water cannon was used to disperse them.
He said police officers again informed Mdlalose to move from the road to allow the municipal cleaning services to clear it.
“A bottle was thrown to the water cannon. I remember myself and a warrant officer telling the accused she had to move from the corner. I was told by the accused to shut up,” said Govender.
“I did notice the accused pick up a rock and throw it on a white Mazda bakkie. I then ran up to the accused with Warrant Officer Govender and placed her under arrest.”
During cross-examination, Govender said he could not tell where the stones and bottles thrown at the police were coming from.
The case has been adjourned until August 6.