With tension mounting as thousands of South Africans plan to March for Change in nationwide protests on Friday, threats of violence and intimidation have surfaced on social media warning protesters that marches are illegal and will detrimentally affect the economy, Berea Mail reports.
In Durban this morning, eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede reportedly told SABC radio that the proposed march was tantamount to treason and said police had been instructed to arrest anyone marching against President Jacob Zuma.
The mayor was quoted saying the march was “uncalled for” and urged people to refrain from taking part in “these nasty marches”.
In response, DA KZN chairperson Haniff Hoosen said Gumede’s alleged controversial statement had only fuelled the protest action and that more people were inspired to take part in the march.
“Our phones have been ringing off the hook. People are now more determined than ever, as the citizens know their rights,” he said.
He said the DA was fully aware of a “deliberate strategy by the ANC to peddle fear into the hearts of citizens” in the hope that it would discourage them from taking to the streets.
Hoosen assured the public that they had received full permission from police services to lead the peaceful protests.
“I have personally been informed that the Metro Police, Public Order Policing and the Crime Intelligence Unit will be out in their hundreds to ensure that the marches will be safe,” he said.
KZN leader of the DA Zwakele Mncwango responded in a media statement saying the DA had, through its lawyers, written to Gumede, giving her until this morning to publicly retract her unconstitutional and undemocratic threats to arrest participants in tomorrow’s mass actions.
“Gumede’s promise to arrest anyone who marches tomorrow undermines the fundamental right in our constitution to peacefully protest. Gumede will defend Zuma at all costs,” he said.
“Gumede’s unlawful threat and intimidation against our lawful march cannot go unchallenged. We await a swift and unconditional retraction from Mayor Gumede,” he said, warning that should the mayor not do so publicly, the opposition would approach the High Court on a urgent basis to interdict Gumede.
KZN police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane confirmed that police would monitor the situation and appealed to the public to maintain a peaceful march.
The national protest comes in response to President Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle last week, during which Pravin Gordhan and several other ministers were axed.
Ethekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede says the proposed march against the recent cabinet reshuffle amounts to treason #sabcnews
— SAfm news (@SAfmnews) April 6, 2017
– Caxton News Service