WATCH: Jacob Zuma supporters disrupt Mdumiseni Ntuli again, but spare Sihle Zikalala
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Pietermaritzburg – In a repeat of last week's cringeworthy incidents, albeit on a low-key basis, supporters of former president Jacob Zuma interrupted and drowned out KZN ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli as soon as he took to the podium during an off-court gathering held outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Wednesday.
The chaos started when Ntuli, who was the programme director for the formal programme, took the podium to outline how speakers would come to the stage.
A group in front of the stage carrying several placards with messages like "Sellouts and WMC Boys", among others, started chanting "Aceeee, Aceee", in reference to Ace Magashule, the suspended secretary-general of the ANC who was on the stage to support Zuma. The gathering attracted about 2 000 supporters.
The swift intervention of MK veterans, who were manning the venue, saved the day. The group of vets approached the disruptive crowd and called them to order.
The MK vets were joined by one of the leaders of the Zulu regiments that had come to support Zuma and the Zulu warrior in traditional gear said, "Stop disrupting and tainting this great event of Zuma. Take your disruption elsewhere, please", and the crowd obliged.
A few days ago, the ANC in KZN locked horns with Magashule when it told him that it was against the "unprincipled" busing of ANC members to the venue. This was after Magashule in the last court appearance on Monday last week said he would bring the "entire Free State" to the court to support Zuma, and those supporters were later accused of being behind Ntuli's booing last week.
When Wednesday's disruption happened, Ntuli fired back and told the supporters that it was wrong for ANC members to disrupt leaders while hiding behind the names of other ANC leaders.
"We will not accept that while we are here to support Nxamalala (Zuma) some people are doing things we don't condone," Ntuli said to the crowd, but his warning was ignored and the disruption persisted.
Contrary to last week, KZN ANC chairperson Sihle Zikalala, who was booed with Ntuli last week, got a warm reception from the crowd as he made his brief remarks without being disrupted.
On Tuesday, Magashule who, with Carl Niehaus and Tony Yengeni, were threatened with disciplinary action by the ANC national working committee for the remarks they publicly made to the supporters of Zuma last week, approached the gathering with caution.
Magashule, whose suspension stipulates that he should not address ANC members of meetings, briefly sang Struggle songs in seSotho, greeted the crowd and handed over the podium to Zikalala. Niehaus did not speak at all and Yengeni was not part of Wednesday's appearance.
Addressing his supporters in isiZulu, Zuma told them that the charges were put to him in court and he pleaded not guilty to all 18 of them.
"I told the court that I don't know anything about any of those charges," he said, drawing a burst of laughter from the crowd.
Although his application to force advocate Billy Downer out as leader of the NPA prosecutors in the case (and if he wins he will push for an acquittal) will be heard on July 19 this year, Zuma sent hope to his supporters that this matter would over by the end of this year.
"I can tell you that when this current year folds, this long trial will be over," he said.