Cape Town - Protesters dumped buckets filled with human faeces at the domestic and international departures terminal at Cape Town International Airport on Tuesday in full view of locals and foreigners, before speeding off in waiting cars.
Police said five people were arrested.
Two of those arrested were identified as ANC proportional councillor and youth league member Nkohla Loyiso Nkohla and suspended youth league member Andile Lili, the self-confessed ringleaders of a group waging a so-called “faeces war” against Premier Helen Zille and mayor Patricia de Lille.
The group has, in the past few weeks, dumped human waste on the steps of the provincial legislature in Wale Street, outside provincial offices in Greenmarket Square and on a convoy of vehicles in which Zille was travelling.
At the airport, travellers and police covered their noses with scarves and protective masks. Airport staff sprayed “hygiene perfumes” to try and mask the stench.
Brazilian Fernando Silva, a first-time visitor to the country, was checking in his luggage when the waste was flung. He told the Cape Argus he was appalled: “It’s not supposed to happen. I have never seen anything like that anywhere in the world.”
Passenger Suzette Dumiet, who was arriving in Cape Town from Port Elizabeth, said: “I had just arrived and saw the commotion for a minute. I didn’t know what was happening. But there was a smell and people running and they just threw the stuff on the floor.
“It’s so distasteful. There are other ways of bringing your problem to relevant people, but not this way.”
Airports Company SA (Acsa) spokesman Deborah Francis said the incident took place at 1.30pm.
“We had police outside and (the protesters) came, popped their car boots and took out blue bags. We didn’t pay any attention as people always have bags with them when travelling. After coming in they threw the buckets on the floor and ran. It happened literally within a few split seconds… They threw it, jumped back into the cars and sped off.”
Police said the five who were arrested were nabbed as they attempted to exit the airport precinct and were expected in court soon
“Police are still on the scene to monitor the situation and will take action if circumstances so necessitate,” said police spokesman Andre Traut.
The ANC’s provincial leadership slammed the latest action, saying Lili and Nkohla had become an embarrassment to the party.
Provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile described the incident as “the work of lunatics” who were misleading the communities they claimed to represent: “The patience of the ANC is wearing thin on this matter. Disciplinary action is already being taken against Lili and Nkohla. Anyone else found to have been involved will face the full wrath of an ANC disciplinary committee.”
ANC spokesman Phillip Dexter said: “Such behaviour is unacceptable and the ANC condemns it without reservation. This disgusting, pseudo-militancy is nothing more than anarchy, displaying a lack of any political or revolutionary consciousness or maturity.”
Dexter said it was alleged that some people in the group were ANC members: “If that is so, they have acted outside of any ANC mandate or structure and against the ANC’s policies, strategies and tactics. If any ANC member is found to have been involved in this criminal behaviour, they will face the swift and appropriate disciplinary action of the organisation.”
The incident at the airport follows a series of poo protests in the city over the past few weeks.
First protesters took aim at Zille, when they threw human waste on the doorstep of the provincial legislature in Wale Street. No arrests were made.
Two weeks ago, 183 people were arrested on public violence charges at the Esplanade train station in Woodstock, for carrying portable flush toilets and human waste in blue municipal bags placed in milk crates. They were all released on a warning.
The State was unsuccessful in its bid to block bail for former councillor and ANC Youth League member Lili, and Yandani Kulati and Thembela Mbanjwa. At the start of the month, a group of people in Khayelitsha threw human waste at a bus and cars used for transport to a green economy event hosted by Zille.
Additional reporting by Sapa