The supporters were part of a protest that attempted to block Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema from visiting a house next tYo President Jacob’s Zuma’s compound.
“They [the ANC leadership] told us all we needed to do was block the road, then the police would tell Malema it was not safe to visit the house and that he should turn back,” said Sazi Ndingiza, a supporter who participated in the protest.
Police ended up firing rubber bullets and tear gas at the crowd after it threw rocks and bottles at Malema.
Thembikile Shezi, who stumbled on the tar and sustained cuts to her knees as she tried to escape from police, said she felt betrayed.
“They [the ANC leadership] had told us the police had been instructed not to attack the protesters.
“We were shocked when they pointed guns at us as they escorted Malema through the crowd,” she said.
The crowd, which was led by President Jacob Zuma’s son, Edward, fled to nearby bushes as police charged at them.
Earlier police had tried to persuade Edward Zuma to tell the crowd to disperse but the president’s son had flatly refused.
“I have done it several times before but not this time around, I’m sorry, not this time around,” the younger Zuma told police.
Shortly thereafter, Malema, whose car was facing the protesting crowd, walked straight into crowd, forcing the police who had earlier told him to drive back and use another route, to escort him through the mob.
Senzo Mkhize, ANC KZN spokesperson, said the party was investigating the matter.
“As the ANC we discourage such kind of behaviour. Members of the organisation are discouraged from disrupting the activities of other political parties,” he said.
Mkhize said it was possible that a majority of the protesters were not ANC members.
“Having said that, I can confirm that some of the people who were arrested were indeed ANC members,” he said.
“We are busy trying to ascertain who organised the protest. We will only be able to consider disciplinary action after an investigation,” Mkhize said.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Thulane Zwane confirmed that police had arrested about 30 of the protesters for attacking police and EFF members.
Malema had gone to the area to hand over a house built by the EFF for Sthandiwe Hlongwane, whose poor living conditions made headlines in 2012 after a her photo was published during DA leader Helen Zille’s disrupted visit. At the time DA members were blocked by ANC supporters as Zille attempted to inspect Zuma’s homestead, about 200 metres from Hlongwane’s dilapidated hut.
The EFF leader told supporters he would not be intimidated by the ANC’s bullying tactics.
“No one can create a no-go area for me in a democratic South Africa,” he said.
“Zuma came to my township in Seshego and no one blocked him. The ANC and Zuma should be ashamed for sending supporters to disturb the meeting of another political party,” Malema said.