Bronwynne Jooste and Daneel Knoetze
THE ANC Youth League has acknowledged threatening to make Cape Town “ungovernable”, but will be seeking legal advice as Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and the mayor Patricia de Lille have filed criminal complaints against it.
The complaints – lodged at Cape Town Central police station under the Intimidation Act yesterday – follow a spate of violent service delivery protests.
Zille and De Lille allege the youth league, ANC Women’s League and the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association are behind the protests.
On Friday last week, after a march by about 500 people to Zille’s office, the youth league delivered a memorandum of demand highlighting the threatened closure of 27 schools in the Western Cape and referring to the youth wage subsidy.
The memo, sourced to the youth league’s Dullah Omar region branch but delivered on behalf of the other organisations charged, threatens that if the demands it sets out are not met, the league and its allies “will make this city and the province ungovernable”. Zille said these were “public threats”.
Zille and De Lille’s action comes after a series of service delivery protests – believed to have been orchestrated by opponents of the DA administration – in Cape Town.
Speaking at the police station, De Lille said she had viewed footage of the protests and it was clear they had been “well-organised” and “orchestrated”.
The city had received news about a possible protest and a police car was patrolling the area, she said. As soon as the police car left at 3am the protesters kicked into action.
“Someone came out with a [megaphone] and started giving instructions. People knew exactly what to do. They came out with their banners and tyres.”
De Lille said about 150 protesters had taken to the streets, making fires and forcing a delivery truck to reverse to avoid the chaos.
“We have a responsibility to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens,” she said.
De Lille said the city would be calculating the cost of repairing the damage. “I am sure it will be hundreds of thousands of rand.”
Mfuzo Zenzile, secretary of the league’s Dullah Omar region, acknowledged making the threats.
“Our memorandum said we’d make the city and province ungovernable if our demands were not met in seven days.”
Zenzile said he had been aware of the city and the province’s intention to file the criminal complaints.
“Once we have been formally notified, we will seek legal advice.”
Police spokesman Colonel Andre Traut said a case of intimidation was being investigated.
CCTV footage shows how quickly a quiet street corner can turn into a platform for a full scale riot.
At 3.16am the footage shows small groups of men and women appearing out of the shadows.
The confidence with which these groups and individuals moved spoke of an orchestrated and meticulous plan of action, said JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security.
Within minutes, tyres are set alight, a wendy house is pulled into the street, a stop sign toppled and a traffic light destroyed. As the chaos unfolds a group of toyi-toying protesters is egged on by a man with a megaphone.
When a solitary response vehicle arrives protesters chase it and throw stones at it.
“This footage has made us realise what we are up against,” said Smith.