100712. Christ Worship Church, Thohoyandou in Limpopo Province. ANCYL members tearing Zuma T-shirt and singing anti-Zuma songs before President Jacob Zuma delivers the Nelson Mandela Memorial Lecture. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Polokwane - ANC Youth League Limpopo leaders have decided against pressing charges after a scuffle at a lecture by President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday.

"We are not going to open a case against anybody. they have declared a war and we are ready to fight," ANCYL Limpopo secretary Jacob Lebogo said on Wednesday.

He was one of the leaders who emerged from the scuffle with bruises.

Media reports ahead of the event had predicted problems given the party's recent expulsion of ANCYL president Julius Malema, who is from Limpopo.

Provincial police spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said a group of people began blocking roads in the vicinity of the Holy Worship Church hall on Tuesday afternoon, ahead of Zuma's arrival.

About 300 people converged outside the church hall. Some carried banners with Malema's picture, singing: "Zuma is troubling us".

They became involved in a fight with security guards when they entered the hall at 4pm.

"Those people are anti-Zuma, and came inside the venue and started singing anti-Zuma songs. Then the ANC security inside the hall contained them and assaulted them," said Mulaudzi.

He said the police were called in to defuse the situation.

"Five of them, who were among those singing anti-Zuma songs, were bundled into a police van and taken away from the venue. We then gave them a serious warning to refrain from causing problems in the area. They complied and were released on a warning," said Mulaudzi.

Zuma began speaking after 5pm, but violence continued outside the hall during his address.

ANCYL Limpopo chairman Rudzani Ludere and Lebogo said they were singled out and "harassed" by people dressed as members of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans' Association.

Zuma was delivering an address on the life of former president Nelson Mandela as part of the party's centenary celebrations. He was there with ANC national executive committee members.

Delegates heard Mandela described as a selfless leader, who did not harbour ambitions to serve two terms in the ruling ANC.

Lebogo and Ludere said Zuma had discredited Limpopo premier Cassel Mathale because he did not support Zuma's re-election.

He was "always threatening removal based on unfounded and unproved allegations (against Cassel).

"Clearly, the assault to the ANCYL was pre-orchestrated; there was no point at any instance that their movements were not video-taped, even at the registration point," said Ludere.

The ANCYL Limpopo re-affirmed its view that Zuma would not be re-elected by its members, and said he had failed to develop other areas, but had focused on "building New York City" in Nkandla, his hometown.

It apologised to the Mandela family for the disruption of the lecture.

"The ANC Youth League in Limpopo wishes to take forward our sincere and heartfelt apologies to President Nelson Mandela and his family on the unfortunate circumstances that nearly disorganised the lecture in his honour," said Ludere.

The presidency said it had no comment and the ANC did not respond to a request for comment.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions in Limpopo said it was shocked by the "criminal activities" intended to disrupt the lecture.

"We... call upon the ANC in the province to act decisively as part of rooting criminals out of our beloved movement, by taking immediate disciplinary actions against individuals involved...," Cosatu said in a statement.

"Such individuals should in fact not be allowed anywhere near the Mangaung ANC elective congress in December."

If action was not taken, the ANC in Limpopo would be living with "anarchists in its ranks" which would "cause disaster", it said. - Sapa