The unruly group who booed at President Jacob Zuma during Madiba’s memorial service on Tuesday were wearing ANC T-shirts, former national police commissioner Bheki Cele said and, because of this, he was referring to them as “comrades”.
In an interview with The Mercury on Wednesday, Cele said he had noted this when he walked to the “southern section of the stadium” to see who was booing and to ask the crowd to behave respectfully.
“They called themselves ANC members and I said to them: ‘Comrades, what are you doing?’ They were wearing ANC T-shirts while others were wearing normal clothes, like I was wearing a suit. Others were wearing tracksuits. This was started by a small group, and others joined in and it became big.”
the ANC leadership held an urgent meeting in the stadium.
“A decision was made that we should go to the crowd. I approached the southern section, while David Makhura (ANC Gauteng secretary) went to the north.”
ANC spokesman Keith Khoza was adamant, however, that the unruly behaviour was by a group wearing red T-shirts resembling those of Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
Zuma was humiliated in front of more than 90 of his international counterparts during the memorial service, held at the FNB Stadium in Nasrec, bordering Soweto, when the group booed every time his face appeared on the big screen. They also used the soccer gesture calling for a substitution.
Cele said when he asked why people were misbehaving, some said: “We are doing it because we like doing it.” Others said they were booing because they were angry, but did not say why they were angry.
Many people were shouting for calm, Cele said.
“When the president spoke, the situation calmed down. I don’t know whether those who were booing had left. Their behaviour was not right, and it can never be right.”
Khoza, however, said those who booed Zuma were not ANC members.
They embarrassed the country, but there is nothing we can do as they do not belong to the ANC,” said Khoza.
EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlonzi said EFF members were in the stadium as citizens. He denied they booed at Zuma.
“ANC members who talked to The Star newspaper have already taken responsibility for the booing.”