DURBAN - AMID anxiety and fear that the pending jailing of former president Jacob Zuma could possibly cause political instability in the Nkandla area, a SAPS patrol trying to gain access to the rural home of the former head of state was yesterday turned away.
The behaviour of about 10 uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) members guarding the Zuma home raised some eyebrows, but the SAPS downplayed it, and said the circulating video taken during the minor commotion was “misinformation”.
The stopping of the SAPS vehicle carrying four police officers from the nearby Nkandla police station happened yesterday afternoon. The police station is one of two where the Constitutional Court on Tuesday said Zuma should hand himself in and be transferred to prison to start serving his 15-month sentence for contempt of court.
When the van approached, MK soldiers in their army regalia stopped the vehicle and spoke to the officer in the driver’s seat.
Other MK soldiers a distance away surrounded the vehicle and some had a verbal exchange with the driver – the other three officers remained seated inside.
When the media tried to get closer, the MK soldiers pushed them back. They could be heard taking down the details of the driver, and escorted the vehicle out, which headed in the direction of Nkandla town.
The MK soldiers later refused to divulge to Independent Media what was discussed and why they turned back the state vehicle.
SAPS national spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said their van turned back by the MK vets was doing “a routine patrol because they have a deployment there at the home”. He said large gatherings were still banned, so anyone camping outside the Zuma home was violating Covid-19 regulations.
Asked whether they would penalise the MK vets for their behaviour, Naidoo said their officers did not report any untoward incident.
“The police that were patrolling there haven’t said there was something untoward that transpired there. What are you talking about exactly? Blocked how? And where exactly?” he asked, and was provided with video evidence of the incident.
Before the commotion, Edward Zuma, son of the former head of state, had addressed the media, and during the interviews refused to officially confirm reports that his father was in Nkandla.
He would only say he was in South Africa. He rubbished reports that Zuma was considering moving to the Kingdom of eSwatini and had requested to be accommodated as a political exile.
During the same briefing, Zuma did not back off from the call he first made on Tuesday that all those who wish to come to Nkandla to support his father should feel free to do so, even at the expense of violating Covid-19 regulations.
He said he was ready to be jailed for making that call as it is a criminal offence to incite others to violate the regulations banning large gatherings.
“Exactly, I am ready to face those consequences. We are in a situation of war. Why should I be afraid? I mean, if a person comes here wanting to support (Zuma), should I chase that person away? I am not going to chase that person away. So (Covid-19) regulations or no regulations, we are in a war situation, so be it. If I am arrested, as Edward Zuma, I am prepared to serve that sentence,” he said.
Meanwhile, Struggle veteran Mac Maharaj has appealed to the leadership of MKMVA to refrain from acts that undermine the rule of law, and called on the leadership to rather assist ex-combatants who live in dire poverty.
He expressed his disappointment with the MKMVA’s call on Zuma to not hand himself over to the authorities, saying the call amounted to undermining the country’s Constitution, which the ANC had fought hard for.
“It’s sad when people are willing to defend an individual who has been found guilty of breaking the law. It is the duty of the ANC to defend the Constitution. Before you become an MK member, you join the ANC.”
Maharaj said episodes of MK members invading government properties reflected certain failures in government as well as MK leadership in looking after ex-combatants.
“Do we uphold the principle of equality before the law or do we excuse and pardon Zuma? The choice is a no brainer,” said Maharaj.
Although it was expected that by yesterday Nkandla would be a hive of political activity, the home was still quiet. Only a few locals, some in ANC regalia, were seen standing in groups outside the home. The groups were even outnumbered by the media contingent.
However, by the end of yesterday, the number of people and vehicles camping outside the home had increased.