The ANC Youth League admits to threatening to make Cape Town “ungovernable”, but will be seeking legal advice after Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and the Mayor Patricia de Lille laid criminal charges against the party.
The charges – registered on Wednesday at Cape Town central police station under the Intimidation Act, No 72 of 1982 – come in the wake of a spate of violent and destructive service delivery protests.
Accused by Zille and De Lille were the ANCYL, the ANC Women’s League and the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association.
On Friday last week, on the back of a 500-strong march on Zille’s office, the ANCYL delivered a memorandum of demand highlighting issues, including the threatened closure of 27 province schools and the youth wage subsidy.
The memorandum, sourced to the ANCYL’s Dullah Omar region branch but delivered on behalf of the other organisations charged, threatens that if its demands are not met, the league and its allies “will make this city and the province ungovernable”.
Zille said these were “public threats”.
Zille and De Lille’s action comes after a series of service delivery protests – widely believed to be orchestrated by opponents of the DA administration – rocked Cape Town in recent weeks.
Speaking at the police station on Wednesday, De Lille said she had viewed footage of the Sweet Home Farm protests and it was clear they were well-organised and “orchestrated”.
She said the city had received news about a possible protest and a police car was patrolling the area at the weekend. As soon as the police car left at about 3am, she said, the protesters had kicked into action.
“There was someone who came out with a [megaphone] and started giving clear instructions. People knew exactly what to do. They came out with their banners and tyres.”
De Lille said about 150 protesters took to the streets, making fires and forcing a delivery truck to reverse to avoid the chaos.
“We have a responsibility to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens,” she said.
De Lille said the city would be calculating the latest costs of the damage after the weekend’s protest. “I am sure it will be hundreds of thousands of rand.”
Mfuzo Zenzile, the secretary of the league’s Dullah Omar region, admitted to making the threats.
“Our memorandum did say we would make the city and province ungovernable if our demands were not met in seven days.”
He said he was aware of the city and the province’s intention to lay the criminal charges.
“Once we have been formally notified, we will seek legal advice. From there, we will consult with our comrades and release our full stance,” said Zenzile.
Police spokesman Colonel Andre Traut confirmed that a case of intimidation had been opened after the charges were laid at the Cape Town central police station.
“The matter is being investigated,” said Traut.
CCTV footage shows how quickly a quiet street corner can turn into a platform for a full scale riot.
At 3.16am the footage shows small groups of men and women appearing out of the shadows surrounding the intersection of Duinefontein and Lansdowne roads.
The confidence with which these groups and individuals move spoke of a carefully orchestrated and meticulous plan of action, said JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security.
Within minutes, tyres are brought forth and set alight, a wendy house is pulled into the street, a stop sign is toppled and a traffic light is destroyed.
Gathered in the centre of the intersection, while this chaos unfolds, is a growing group of toyi-toying protesters. They are being egged on by a man with a megaphone.
When a solitary response vehicle arrives on the scene, it is attacked by protesters. They chase after the vehicle, hurling stones, until it is forced to retreat back up the road from whence it came.
“This kind of footage has made us realise what we are up against,” said Smith.