Johannesburg - The African National Congress Women's League (ANCWL) said it was saddened by videos and images of a group of men 'brutally assaulting women' outside the Chief Albert Luthuli House on Monday.
Scuffles broke out outside the ANC's headquarters after supporters of President Jacob Zuma tried to lead a protest against his possible recall from office
Members of the Black First Land First (BLF) movement, who want Zuma to be allowed to serve out his term as State president until 2019, were greeted by ANC supporters who chased them away, and in the process attacked BLF members as they were getting off the truck transporting them.
Video footage emerged of a woman being severely assaulted by a man identified as Thabiso Setona, the ANC branch secretary of ward 62.
"There is no justification to subject any person to physical violence and dehumanising acts in the name of politics. It is a barbaric act and those who participated in that stupid primitive act must face the law," ANCWL said in a statement.
The Women's League has called on legal institutes to assist the women and asked Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to launch a probe against South African Police Services (SAPS) members who are seen on the images not "protecting the women against Setona's gang".
"It is a shame that Setona's gang, under their Siyavuma regalia, unleashed their barbaric acts on women around Luthuli House during the centenary of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela an epitome of peace and reconciliation and also centenary of Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu a former leader of the ANCWL who spent her life fighting for the rights of women," the ANCWL said.
They also called on the ANC to dismiss all members who participated in this "shameful act of assaulting women".
"Violence against women must not be tolerated in a society and perpetrators must face the full might of the law. Women's rights are human rights," said the ANCWL.
Adding to this was The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) which also expressed its shock at the "merciless beating of a helpless woman protester".
CGE spokesperson Javu Baloyi said: "In a video that has gone viral, a woman is seen being brutally beaten by a man wearing an African National Congress (ANC) T-shirt. The Commission is also shocked that nobody came to the assistance of a powerless and helpless woman who was being assaulted even whilst lying on the ground.
"The CGE is equally worried that there was lack of police action to either stop the beating or apprehend the perpetrator of this heinous crime. The beating clearly shows we are a society that has normalised violence against the most vulnerable people of our society, in this case a defenseless woman. In the year 2016 alone, a staggering 182 933 cases of assault were reported."
In a statement earlier, the ANC said it condemns in the "strongest possible terms the assault of protesters by a grouping outside the ANC headquarters".
African News Agency/ANA