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Two people have been arrested following violence during President Jacob Zuma's ANC centenary address in Cape Town on Thursday, police said.
“We arrested two people. For now, it's charges of assault. The incident was put under control as quickly as it started,” national police spokesperson Colonel Vish Naidoo said.
“There was a commotion which was noticed by our members who were deployed there. As they went to calm it down, they discovered that two people were injured, one of them a journalist.”
According to reports, several ANCYL members were thrown out of the Good Hope Centre when they started singing during Zuma's speech on the ANC’s second president, Sefako Makgatho. An SABC cameraman was hit with a chair while filming an anti-Zuma protest outside the venue.
Suspended ANC Youth League president Julius Malema was the focal point of the protests, the Cape Times reported, with a group in the crowd shouting his name and singing: “Jacob Zuma, uphi uJuju? As’phelelanga? (Where is Juju, not all of us are here).”
More policemen were called in to calm the situation, but the defiant group kept jeering at Zuma and chanting Malema’s name in the presence of heavily armed guards.
ANC provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile’s appeal for calm fell on deaf ears and the group continued protesting throughout Zuma’s speech ,the Cape Times said
After his speech Zuma had words for the group.
“They have shown us who they are. The ANC has come across such situations in the past. Inevitably it has always been overcome because the ANC stands for the people ... and the respect of the people,” Zuma said.
“Because of the misbehaviour that has occurred here today, I would like to apologise on behalf of the African National Congress. We would like to apologise to those who came to honour the memory of Sefako Makgatho.”
The group was also rebuked by ANC national chairwoman Baleka Mbete and by ANC provincial chairman Marius Fransman, who apologised to other guests.
Senzeni Mphila, the youth league’s Western Cape co-ordinator, denied that the protesters were league members.
The youth league condemned their actions, he said.
“As far as I know they were people who went there to attend the centenary celebrations. I don’t know anything about the youth league organising for them to be there.” The league would investigate.
ANC national spokesman Jackson Mthembu said steps would be taken against the “criminals”, who had set out to disrupt Zuma’s speech.
“We want to know who are these people who wanted to disrupt a well-organised ANC lecture,” Mthembu said.
“Although they failed to do so, we will identify them and if they are ANC members they will be brought before the disciplinary committee.” - Sapa, IOL