A huge crowd of singing and chanting members of the SA National Civics Organisation (Sanco) descended on the City of Joburg chambers where ANC councillors tabled – and withdrew – a motion of no confidence in mayor Herman Mashaba.
Carrying placards that read: “Mashaba must go!”, “Mashaba is the biggest liar and thief in SA”, “Go back to hair salon” and “Mashaba is EFF mayor”, thousands of regional members, clad in yellow T-shirts, called for the removal of Mashaba.
Amid heavy security and mere metres away, a group of about 50 Democratic Alliance (DA) supporters in plain clothes also sang and chanted – in support of Mashaba. That group’s placard read: “Hands off Mashaba.”
The groups were separated by a police cordon and barbed wire.
Not only did the Sanco march become a show of strength in solidarity with ANC councillors, who have in the past made unsuccessful attempts to unseat Mashaba, it became a nightmare to motorists and bus commuters, with metro police having their hands full.
Bused from various parts of Johannesburg, the Sanco protesters – escorted by police armoured vehicles – chanted: “Down with Mashaba” and “Viva Sanco!”.
Having earlier converged at Beyers Naude Square in the Johannesburg CBD, they had marched towards Braamfontein by noon. For about an hour, traffic came to a virtual halt in streets adjacent to Rissik, with commuters waiting longer than usual for buses.
Traffic had to be diverted when some streets became inaccessible.
A section of the crowd attempted to flatten the barbed wire placed around the chambers, but Sanco regional chairperson Thomas Thage asked for calm.
“Let us not be provoked by Mashaba for having placed this barbed wire. Be disciplined.”
Sanco marshals diffused what could have created a tense standoff between the police and the crowds by separating them.
Asked why the civic body supported a move to unseat Mashaba, regional spokesperson Simphiwe Hlafa said it is “yet another show of demand for Mashaba to leave”.
“Service delivery has suffered since he took over.
“On July 7, we laid criminal charges against him due to a violation of the Public Finance Management Act and conniving with criminals to sell land.
“If we fail to remove him today, this campaign should be seen as a process and not an end.”