Human rights NGO Section 27 has been protesting in Church Square against President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria as part of the Save SA campaign, but they allege they were subjected to intimidation tactics by about a dozen ANC members on Wednesday evening, while the police did nothing to intervene.
Save SA has been camping in the square, and will continue to do so this week.
Section 27’s director Mark Heywood told The Citizen they had been protesting peacefully, and about 40 or 50 of them were attending a debrief at their tent when about 10 to 15 “thugs” from the ANC arrived and started screaming at them.
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They allegedly said that “this is Solomon Mahlangu Square, and they’re going to come back here, they’re going to come and get us … pointing at me personally, accusing us of being agents … I’m an agent of Western imperialism … ‘We saw what you did in Libya’ … that sort of nonsense.”
Listen to the interview below:
He said they had narrowly avoided getting into an altercation.
“We prevented any of our people from responding physically to their physical threats.”
Heywood said the thugs “went and destroyed a tent”, stole a banner, “threatened us some more” and then went to the other side of the square and burnt the banner.
He said he had no doubt that they were from the ANC. One person they identified as an ANC councillorm while others were from the ANC Youth League.
The activist described the police response as “absolutely useless”, with vans appearing and disappearing just as quickly.
Apparently police told them that they were not trained or equipped to deal with the situation.
Heywood said they would remain in the square and not give up their right to democratic protest.
Since he says they obtained permission for their protest, he expected the police to protect them, or they would hire private security. What they would not do was back down, though they had advised some of their members to leave.
“We will not respond with any violence ourselves. That’s not the way to deal with this type of intimidation.”
He encouraged more people to join them.