Pretoria - Divisions among the organisers of the drug-free South Africa march that took place in Pretoria on Friday did not discourage scores of people from joining.
The march started at Burgers Park and ended at the Union Buildings. A memorandum handed to police requested the government to implement a drug master plan and harsher sentences for drug-related offences.
However, march organisers Put SA First and reality TV presenter and host of the popular Moja Love show, Sizokthola, Xolani Khumalo, were at loggerheads throughout the march.
Put SA first leader Faith Mabusela told the Pretoria News that they were the main organisers of the march, but felt Khumalo and his foundation, the Xolani Khumalo Foundation, had hijacked their march because of his celebrity status.
She also accused Khumalo of sidelining them from addressing the demonstrators and pulled out of the march at the last minute.
“Put SA First had organised this march. This is supposed to be for all citizens, but at the start of the march it was hijacked by the Xolani Khumalo Foundation, Santaco (SA National Taxi Council) and other organisations but us as Put SA First are now withdrawing,” Mabusela said. She claimed the organisation, which had been advocating against foreign nationals, had brought 95% of the marchers because it had been mobilising throughout the month.
“We brought 95% of the people who were mobilised by us, but unfortunately now we will be withdrawing,” she said.
Speaking to the Pretoria News at the weekend, Khumalo dismissed Mabusela’s assertions as sour grapes and accused her of having ulterior motives.
Khumalo said Mabusela was using the march for her own selfish interests but he had not sidelined her.
“Two of the people from her organisation said they were lying.
“We had planned this march together. Yes, granted, the organisation organised Section 205 after they approached me to be part of the march. Everything was smooth-sailing until I discovered that she was taking interviews regarding the march, but she came across as if she was representing me.
“I also heard that she was taking money from people promising them that she would use the money for transportation to the march, but there had not been such an agreement between us. We had roped in Santaco to help with free transport in that regard,” Khumalo said.
He added that another concern was that Mabusela and her organisation were flashing placards with his name and the popular TV show where he busts drug dealers.
“I warned them to remove Sizokthola during their mobilisation because it belongs to Moja Love,” Khumalo said.
He said the march was to deliver a message to the government to hand down harsher sentences for drug-related offences.
“We want the community to be able to arrest or do a citizen’s arrest on drug offenders. For now we can’t do citizens’ arrests because the court will tell you about the line of evidence and so on.
“We also want a national unit that we can work with to assist the Xolani Khumalo Foundation that fights the scourge of drugs … we also want an immediate implementation of the drug national plan,” Khumalo said.
Among organisations that joined the march were the EFF, the Young Communist League, Santaco and the African Radical Economic Transformation Alliance led by Carl Niehaus.
Santaco national spokesperson Rebecca Phala also dismissed Mabusela’s assertions saying they were unsubstantiated. “We have been made aware that Put South Africa First has made some unsubstantiated allegations against us regarding our involvement in the march. Among those allegations are statements that we apparently sabotaged and hijacked the march.
“Our communication from the onset was always clear, we joined a march whose clarion call is in our values, which is to ensure that the South Africa we operate in, is somewhat cushioned from social ills, also because our taxi ranks have in some instances been found to be used for the illegal sale and consumption of substances, a matter that gravely concerns us.”