Western Cape premier and former DA leader Helen Zille’s election blitz in Eersterust, Pretoria, was on Wednesday marred when Patriotic Alliance (PA) members stormed into the hall her party had booked, and disrupted a meeting she was addressing.
The DA, which is gunning for key metros countrywide in the upcoming local government elections, had called a public meeting to address residents about issues that were affecting them and to introduce the councillor candidate for the area, Benjamin Lawrence II, to the community.
But only a few minutes into the meeting, a crowd of PA supporters yelled at Zille and demanded to be given a platform to speak.
Tensions between the political rivals was palpable from the onset, as the PA had booked a venue next to where the DA was holding its meeting.
Tempers flared when PA supporters shouted: “Voetsek bitch. “We will kill you.” Some of them were even heard yelling: “Jou ma se p**s!”
PA members heckled Zille in her speech when she said that the PA was led by two questionable individuals in the form of “Sushi King” Kenny Kunene (who reportedly retired from politics in 2014) and his business partner Gayton McKenzie.
She said: “McKenzie is known very much for various activities that landed him in an interesting place.” She was referring to the fact that McKenzie had once been a bank robber (in the 1990s), who had been sentenced to prison.
“But more recently for facilitating the R25 million bribe to Baleka Mbete to give Gold Fields a mining licence,” she added.
“The other one is Kenny Kunene, who ran a night club that had bare women with sushi on their bodies.”
PA regional leader from the Eastern Cape, Ganief Williams, told The Citizen that they were disrupting the meeting because Zille was in the area to “lie to people”.
“Helen Zille only comes to our area when it is election time,” said Williams.
“She will come here with attractive language. We are sick and tired of that.”
He said Zille was not welcome in the area.
An angry Zille fired back: “The PA has come to disrupt the meeting because it has a candidate in this ward. It is very useful for South Africans to see what some parties are really like and the kind of behaviour they will undertake.”
DA councillor Ingle Singh defected to the PA last week. He cited racism in the DA as one of the reasons he left the party. The party says a further two DA councillors have joined its ranks.
However, Zille said she was not embarrassed about what had happened.
“This often happens in the elections,” she said.
She said voting for a small party like the PA would only enable the ANC to stay in power.
“It is not as if the PA is a legitimate and valid choice to beat the ANC,” the premier said.
DA mayoral candidate for the City of Tswhane Solly Msimang, who was also present, said the DA meeting had been disrupted because the PA was basing itself in predominantely coloured areas, such as Eersterust.
“They are trying to mobilise people on the basis of race,” said Msimang. He said the scourge of drugs was not going to end with other parties, because their leaders are “drug peddlers.”
The PA supporters burnt DA T-shirts and blocked the gate, preventing Zille and other people from leaving.
It was only when McKenzie arrived that they calmed down. They whistled and shouted when they saw him.
McKenzie, the PA’s president, said he was very proud of what his supporters had done.
“I am standing 100% behind what these people have done here,” he said. “We are protesting. Protest is a legal form of showing your grievances. Helen Zille is coming here to say Cape Town is well run, but coloured people are being murdered every day on the Cape Flats. What is she doing to prevent that? Nothing.”
When asked whether the PA was targeting the DA, McKenzie replied: “It is not about the DA. Anybody that stands in front of us will feel our wrath.”
McKenzie warned that Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Danny Jordaan would also “know them” next week when he delivers his speech.
The PA is contesting elections in five metros in the country.