EFF members, wearing the party's distinctive red berets, put final touches to the roof of a home built for a woman and her grandchildren, while ANC supporters demonstrate in the foreground on Saturday, 11 January 2014. In the background President Jacob Zuma's controversial Nkandla residence is seen. Picture: Giordano Stolley/SAPA

Nkandla - After facing violent confrontation from apparent ANC members in Nkandla yesterday, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema accused the ruling party of seeking to make President Jacob Zuma’s village a no-go area.

A number of ANC supporters were arrested as they clashed with EFF members near Zuma’s Nkandla home.

Police fired rubber bullets and used a water cannon and tear gas against ANC members who threw stones and water bottles after Malema arrived to give a house to a Nkandla woman.

Earlier several hundred ANC supporters protested near Zuma’s home, and marched past the home the EFF built for a woman and her grandchildren.

When Malema’s car arrived the ANC supporters blocked the road and prevented his car from driving past. Malema then got out of the car and walked through the crowd to get to the house. After he made it through, supporters began pelting him with missiles.

“The ANC wants to make Nkandla a no-go area and we’re not going to allow that. No one must block any person from entering any area in South Africa,” Malema told The Sunday Independent.

The attack was “political intolerance and anarchy, which is encouraged by the ruling party”, Malema said.

“We will never be derailed by that. They failed because they said no one was going to enter, or that I will never enter that place. But I entered.

“They blocked the road. I had to confront them. I got out of the car and passed them and continued with my business.”

It was not the first time ANC members violently confronted an opposition leader visiting Nkandla. They prevented the DA’s Helen Zille from inspecting Zuma’s homestead in 2012.

Sihle Zikalala, secretary of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, rebuffed claims that the party set out to prevent opposition parties from certain areas.

“The ANC has not sanctioned or sent anyone to attack anybody. We brought democracy, we understand democracy. They are free to go anywhere they want to go,” Zikalala said.

But he would not comment on the incident reportedly instigated by ANC supporters.

“Right now we’re not in the province. Almost all of us are in Mpumalanga for January 8 (the ANC anniversary rally), so I will not be able to speak about that until we get hold of a report.”

Police used truncheons to keep the warring ANC and EFF members apart. The entrance to the property, about 300m from the perimeter fence, was manned by a contingent of police officers.

Police had erected a roadblock about 1km from the house. All vehicles were searched.

Earlier, a group of about 40 police officers in riot gear were briefed near the entrance to the EFF-donated house.

About 70 police cars, as well as Nyalas, riot vehicles and a police tow-truck lined the road. A helicopter kept watch overhead.

Earlier a group of EFF members, wearing the party’s distinctive red berets, put the final touches to the roof of the home.

A marquee with chairs was set up next to the house.

The EFF said on Friday that Malema would not inspect Zuma’s Nkandla homestead.

EFF “central command team” member Sipho Mbatha said: “He is not going to visit the palace. We don’t want things to get too excited”.

EFF KwaZulu-Natal convener Vusi Khoza reiterated that Malema would not be inspecting Zuma’s residence.

Khoza said the local chief had told the EFF that their workers could build the house as long as they did not wear party regalia.

“We just respected him, but we are there each and every day. Maybe later when EFF is in power we can convert Zuma’s Nkandla home into an educational facility,” said Khoza.

Sunday Independent