Durban – About 500 supporters of criminally charged eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede again clashed with police outside the African National Congress (ANC) provincial headquarters in Durban late on Monday afternoon.
This is the second consecutive week that Gumede’s supporters have marched to the offices demanding that Gumede – who has been placed on 30-days’ leave by the party – be reinstated as mayor.
The majority of the supporters were clad in ANC regalia and followed the same modus operandi as they had during their previous protests, saying they would not leave until a decision to reinstate Gumede was made.
However, by 7pm the number of supporters had diminished to about 40, with police still monitoring the situation.
One of KwaZulu-Natal’s police spokespersons, lieutenant-colonel Thulani Zwani, told African News Agency (ANA) that one teargas canister had been utilised for crowd control.
Gumede is also the chairman of the eThekwini Region ANC, the biggest in the country by numbers. The leadership of the region was suspended three weeks ago and a task team established; Gumede’s supporters are also seeking to have that task team dissolved.
Gumede, senior councillor Mondli Mthembu and businessman Craig Poonan were charged in mid-May for graft relating to a R208 million Durban Solid Waste contract dating back to 2016.
Several others implicated in the same fraud were arrested two weeks before the trio’s appearance. All of the accused were released on bail and will appear again in August.
Following a public outcry of her delivering the annual budget and ostensibly interacting with some municipal staff who had implicated her in the graft, Gumede was consequently placed on 30 days’ leave by the provincial ANC leadership.
Deputy mayor, councillor Fawzia Peer, has been standing in for Gumede until she returns.
The municipality came under fire last week when it was learnt that city buses were taken off their routes to transport Gumede’s supporters to the ANC headquarters. The party said it was looking into the allegations.
But on Monday, the Democratic Alliance’s eThekwini caucus leader, Nicole Graham, said the ANC had been using municipal buses “to ferry people wherever they choose” for years.
“Our own investigations have found that 49 buses were used [in last week’s protests by Gumede supporters]; 10 from the Umlazi depot and 39 from the Ntuzuma depot. As usual, their ordinary routes and commuters were abandoned in favour of the ANC,” said Graham.
African News Agency (ANA)