Violence halts DA march

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IOL  march barry 1 (2) IOL Protesters wearing ANC T-shirts in central Johannesburg on Wednesday. Picture: Barry McCallum

Johannesburg - Brick-carrying protesters wearing ANC T-shirts stormed the DA in central Johannesburg on Wednesday as its leader Helen Zille was about to address marchers.

The Democratic Alliance's march for “real jobs” stopped on the corner of Rissik and Marshall streets after the police told them it was too dangerous to move on to Beyers Naude Square.

As Zille was about to start speaking, a group of protesters in ANC attire came running down Rissik Street.

Zille shouted, “stay calm!”, but protesters threw bricks at DA members who turned around and started running back to the Westgate transport hub.

Police fired three stun grenades at the group seen running towards the marchers.

Police then blocked off roads in the city with nyalas, with groups of singing ANC supporters scattered all over the CBD.

Police were ready to fire off a salvo of rubber bullets, and a water cannon was wheeled out into the street.

People, dressed in ANC attire, also threw petrol bombs at police at the corner of Miriam Makeba and Fox streets.

A Sapa reporter at the scene said at least four petrol bombs were thrown at police near the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court.

Around 100 officers descended on the street to try and restore calm.

The violence resulted in DA supporters being re-routed back to the Westgate transport hub.

DA Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane told reporters that members of the ANC had thrown stones at them.

Maimane told supporters to disperse peacefully. He said the ANC were losers.
 

"Comrades, victors are here and losers are there. When you get to the townships don't fight. We are not fighting with anyone.

Meanwhile ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said that the party's members had been well behaved during the march by the DA.

"I didn't see any violence. I only see people running and marching," he told Sapa on Wednesday.
 

"If there was any violence, we would condemn it... but from where I am seated our member have been well behaved. There was no threat from ourselves."

Mthembu said he had not witnessed any incidents.
 

"If we saw anybody doing that we would have acted on that. We have heard of people carrying bricks but I didn't see that," he said.
 

"We don't accept any throwing of bricks on any matter."
 

Mthembu blamed the alleged violence on the DA, saying they knew the march near Luthuli House was ill-advised.
 

"The DA hired a private security company, they were well armed. They are helmeted. They came to attack Luthuli House," he claimed.
 

"The march ended because the DA leadership decided on it. They did it on their own accord." - Sapa



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