Durban - Protesters allegedly in support of embattled eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede have shut down operations at the Durban City Hall and municipal buildings nearby on Thursday.
People clad in ANC regalia have closed off the intersections around the Durban City Hall. Protesters have closed of Dr Pixley Kaseme and Dorothy Nyembe Road and Anton Lembede Street. This has also caused major traffic congestion in the city centre during peak morning traffic. The protesters are surrounded by a large police contingent.
Colonel Thembeka Mbele, a KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson, said from 6am a group of about 200 people gathered together in the Durban CBD.
"Police are monitoring the situation. No damages to property were reported. No injuries were reported at this stage to any persons,"Mbele said.
The African News Agency (ANA) reported that die-hard supporters of criminally charged Gumede braved the cold on Wednesday night and finally got their night vigil under way.
The vigil was supposed to start at 7 pm, but by 9pm no supporters were in sight. There had been confusion about a potential venue.
By midnight though, the mayor's backers - draped in African National Congress (ANC) regalia and singing struggle songs - were marching through the city streets and eventually settled at the ANC headquarters in Durban.
One of the organisers of the vigil, Mzo Dube, told ANA that the protesters would be gathering at Durban city hall on Thursday morning to "welcome" the mayor back as her leave had "lapsed".
People waiting outside the Florence Mkhize Building on Anton Lembede Street to pay utility bills had been told to leave by a group of knobkerrie carrying protesters just after 7 am. The offices open at 730am.
A resident said she had been waiting in the queue when the protesters arrived and calmly explained that they wanted them to move in solidarity with their cause.
"They were nice about it. They explained in isiZulu and English. The protesters said that we must move away in solidarity with their cause because if we go inside they can't guarantee what time we will be let out the building as they were closing all the municipal buildings down," she said.
A planned inspection of Duban's bad buildings was also cancelled at the last minute. Durban City Manager was scheduled to lead a contingency to view buildings in a derelict state in the city centre.