Political analysts say the ANC must apologise for the scenes at the home of late struggle stalwart Andrew Mlangeni during his funeral proceedings on Wednesday, saying the situation has created public resentment.
A crowd of people gathered there and some surrounded the coffin, without practising social distancing to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Mlangeni had a state funeral in which President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the eulogy.
Images of people in attendance at the house on Tuesday were circulated online and South Africans questioned the behaviour of the people at Mlangeni’s home. Some complained that many families were not afforded opportunities to send off their loved ones in such a manner.
“It (the event) creates a lot of public resentment, that the rule of law seems to apply only to the other people and not to the members of the ruling party,” Professor Somadoda Fikeni said.
Shooting itself in the foot
He added that the resentment would also be linked to the recent exposure of Covid-19-related corruption and looting, which raised other questions about law enforcement and perceptions of “bias towards the politically connected ones”.
Fikeni said that if, in the future, the government wanted to impose more restrictions, questions would be raised by citizens.
The party defended the event, saying it had sufficiently planned and that residents of Dube in Soweto had “spontaneously” come out in numbers.
Fikeni said the “spontaneity” would cause other families to use the same defence when defying regulations at funerals, adding that the ANC should apologise.
“That is shooting oneself in the foot. Even the law enforcement; to look back and not remind them that this is the law you have actually imposed on people under very difficult circumstances. That in itself also creates another problem,” he added.
Another analyst, Dr Ralph Mathekga, told News24 that Mlangeni would not have approved the scenes outside his home and that the party should have anticipated that the event would cause public outrage.
“He was one of the men with humility. A very humble man…”
“Lockdown measures and regulations are very hard. They are extraordinarily hard and we are living under very abnormal circumstances. If you rally the nation on something like this, you should not risk legitimacy as if you are above the very same system you are saying everybody should live by,” Mathekga said.
Mathekga added that it was “sad” the ANC failed to lead at that particular event and that it should have known that there would be such a response from people.
“They must clarify their position, this thing is not clear. They must clarify what’s happening. They should have foreseen it. It is unacceptable to say [people came out spontaneously].”
Police have since announced it would probe the contravention of the Disaster Management Act at the ANC stalwart’s home.
In a statement on Wednesday evening, national police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said: “The regulations in terms of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002 makes provision for the dispersing of crowds who gather illegally and to hold accountable a person or persons who convenes or organises illegal gatherings.”Therefore, with regards to this matter in question, a case of contravention of Section 48 (1)(a) of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002 will be opened for investigation.”