Stop burning flags and hurting people, Malema tells crowd

ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, whose disciplinary hearing began at ANC headquarters on Tuesday, has chided supporters for attacking journalists and the police, and for showing disrespect towards party leaders.

Wearing a black beret and a T-shirt showing former South African Communist Party (SACP) leader Chris Hani, Malema urged his supporters to show restraint in their support.

Hundreds of Julius Malema supporters gathered in the streets of Johannesburg today as Juju faced the first day of his disciplinary hearing. Journalists and police were pelted with rocks and other debris, and T-shirts bearing Jacob Zuma’s face were burnt.
“You cannot throw stones at journalists because journalists are just messengers,” he told a crowd at Beyers Naude square in central Johannesburg.

Malema also said it was wrong to throw objects at the police.

“The police is not your enemy. These are the people employed to protect you.”

He said: “You must know who is the enemy”—after which the crowd started chanting “Zuma! Zuma!”.

But Malema said ANC alliance leaders had to be respected, after a day of violent protests which saw the burning of T-shirts bearing President Jacob Zuma’s face and ANC flags.

“You are here because you love the ANC. We must exercise restraint,” he said. “We must never burn the ANC flag. A leader may go, but the ANC will remain.”

“This is the flag of Chris Hani, Peter Mokaba, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu and of Harry Gwala—it’s your flag.”

“We will be here the week, a month, a year to support our leaders. We must display revolutionary restraint and we must not be drawn into nonsense.”

ANC allies slam youth league
Meanwhile, Umkhonto we Sizwe veterans and the SACP have joined their voices to the ANC’s in condemning the violent protests by supporters of Malema outside Luthuli House on the first day of his disciplinary hearing.

Tensions had ebbed briefly outside the ANC’s headquarters in the Johannesburg CBD after violent clashes on Tuesday morning in which journalists were pelted with stones, but the calm gave way to clashes between police and supporters of Julius Malema once after a a group of about 25 people had climbed on top of a nyala, singing and dancing with sticks in their hands.

Police fired rubber bullets at the group to get them off the armoured vehicle.

Earlier there were violent clashes between supporters and police, who used a water cannon to control the crowd. Three helicopters were seen hovering over the region of Beyers Naude Square and Luthuli House, which is situated on the corner of Sauer Street.

ANC security guards at Luthuli House attempted to make a citizens arrest on Tuesday during the riots after a documentary filmmaker managed to get into the building.
A South African Press Association photographer, Werner Beukes, and two eNews journalists, Belinda Moses and Cathy Mohlahlana. were pelted with stones during the clashes. Etv reported that one of their news vehicles containing expensive broadcast equipment was attacked and damaged.

League members were reportedly bussed in overnight from around the province and the country, to show their support for Malema outside of Luthuli House. Malema, Shivambu, league deputy president Ronald Lamola, secretary general Sindiso Magaqa, his deputy Kenetswe Mosenogi and treasurer general Pule Mabe face disciplinary charges which included bringing the ANC into disrepute and sowing division in ANC ranks.

Malema recently said the league would send a team to Botswana to consolidate local opposition parties and help bring about regime change, as it believed the government there was “in full cooperation with imperialists” and was undermining the “African agenda”.

‘Seeds of a civil war’
Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKVA) and the ANC’s alliance partner the SACP have sharply condemned the violence.

“Public displays of anarchy have crossed the line, we are left in no doubt the people burning ANC flags are doing so on orders of their masters,” said MKMVA chairperson Kebby Maphatsoe.

The association further warned that if matters were not controlled, they could “plant the seeds of a civil war”.

“If [violence is committed] in a leader’s name they [the leader] must take responsibility and if not it should be added to the charges,” he said.

The SACP condemned attempts to “invade Luthuli House” and to create a “sense of siege” ahead of Malema’s disciplinary hearing.

“We should not confuse militancy for anarchy or disorder for democracy,” the SACP said. “We hope the ANC will act decisively to quell this and restore the authority of the organisation as opposed to individual and personality cult.”

The SACP also condemned the burning of pictures of SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande and ANC president Jacob Zuma.

ANC blasts unruly crowd
Earlier, the ANC condemned the violence—and the presence of Malema’s supporters.

The violence was “totally unacceptable” and tarnished the name of the ANC, party spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said.

“We totally condemn such violence. It is totally unacceptable,” Mthembu said, after stones and bottles were thrown at reporters, photographers and police in the city centre.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told reporters outside Luthuli House that “those responsible for bringing these individuals [protesters] will be held responsible for their actions”.

It flies in the face of what the leadership has called for—disciplined behaviour,” said Mthembu, as groups tried to push towards ANC headquarters Luthuli House.

“It is not disciplined, and is criminal,” he said.

“We have seen journalists being pelted. We have also seen even our police being pelted with stones, and all types of things. We are therefore saying this is unacceptable and we put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the ANC Youth League. We are very concerned.”

Closed for business
Banks in Johannesburg’s central business district were forced to shut their doors due to the violence that flared up ahead of the disciplinary hearings on Tuesday.

Standard Bank’s Library Gardens branch had been closed as a precaution, said spokesman Ross Linstrom.

“We’ve deployed our staff from the Library Gardens to other branches. Its business as usual, we’ve just asked our staff to use caution when moving through the CBD,” he said.

Standard Bank had a sign outside saying: “Closed due to emergency circumstances”.

First National Bank said it had closed three of its branches on Tuesday morning.

“All branches are open this morning. We’ve closed the Johannesburg CBD branch, the Main Street branch and President Street west branch,” said FNB spokesperson Busisiwe Mngomezulu.

Police work
The army will not intervene in the violence outside the ANC’s headquarters in central Johannesburg, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said in Cape Town.

“That is a matter for the police,” Sisulu told journalists.

“We defend the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country. That matter we will not entertain at the moment.

“If it is the burning of T-shirts, that is a police matter. And I am certain the police are perfectly competent to deal with it.”

For more news and multimedia on ANC Youth League president Julius Malema click here.

Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer is the Mail & Guardian's jack of all trades news reporter that chases down stories ranging from politics and sports to big business and social justice. Armed with an iPad, SLR camera, camcorder and dictaphone, he aims to fight ignorance and pessimism through written words, photographs and videos. He believes South Africa could be the greatest country in the world if only her citizens would give her a chance to flourish instead of dwell on the negativity. When he's not begging his sub-editors for an extra twenty minutes after deadline, he's also known to dabble in the occasional poignant column that will leave you mulling around in the depths of your psyche. The quintessential workaholic, you can also catch him doing sports on the weekday breakfast show on SAfm and presenting the SAfm Sports Special over the weekend.
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