Violence disprupts DA’s jobs march

By Miranda Raath, Genevieve Quintal And Karabo Ngoepe Time of article published Feb 12, 2014

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Johannesburg - Chaos broke out during a march by the Democratic Alliance in central Johannesburg on Wednesday with petrol bombs, bricks, and stones being flung at police.

Four people wearing African National Congress T-shirts were arrested for public violence.

Colonel Katlego Mogale said things turned violent when DA supporters arrived in Rissik Street.

“Our members were stoned and petrol bombed.”

Despite this, no injuries were reported, she said. The march began at the Westgate transport hub at 11.30am but was stopped in Rissik Street a short while later when police said it was too dangerous to continue.

Minutes later a brick-carrying group, dressed in ANC attire, ran towards the marchers just as DA leader Helen Zille was about to address them. Police fired stun grenades to ward them off, and Zille shouted, “stay calm”.

The armed group threw bricks at the marchers, who turned around and ran back to the starting point at the transport hub.

Some of the brick-carrying group told a Sapa reporter at the scene they had picked up the loose bricks from the pavement.

Police blocked off roads in the city with Nyalas, as groups of singing ANC supporters scattered throughout the central business district.

Another group, also dressed in ANC attire, threw petrol bombs at police at the corner of Miriam Makeba and Fox streets.

A Sapa reporter at the scene said at least four petrol bombs were thrown at them near the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court. Afterwards, about 100 police officers lined the street.

Police were ready to fire a salvo of rubber bullets, and a water cannon was wheeled into the street.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu denied there was violence during the march, saying his members were well behaved.

“I didn't see any violence. I only see people running and marching,” he told Sapa.

“If there was any violence, we would condemn it... but from where I am seated our members have been well behaved. There was no threat from ourselves.”

DA spokesman Mmusi Maimane told marchers to disperse peacefully and labelled the ANC “losers”.

“Comrades, victors are here and losers are there (Luthuli House). When you get to the townships don't fight. We are not fighting with anyone.”

DA members boarded buses and left.

Before the march, Zille accused the ANC of gathering with rocks and bricks at Beyers Naude Square without permission. She told reporters the police did nothing about it.

After the march ended, Zille said the ANC was a violent organisation that did not respect the Constitution.

“The ANC behaved like the ANC normally behaves. They can't be trusted to lead a democracy,” she said.

At 6am the ANC approached the High Court in Johannesburg seeking an urgent protection order against what it called a threat by the DA.

The ruling party submitted that the application was necessary because the DA had secured the services of a security firm “armed to the teeth” with batons, helmets, and shields. The application was dismissed.

Afterwards, the ANC welcomed two councillors from the DA to into its ranks.


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