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05 Sep 2008 14:15
Supporters of African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma attempted to force their way into the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court on Friday, as colleagues chanted slogans and picketed outside various other courts across the greater Durban area.
The protests, arranged by the ANC’s eThekwini region, were to be followed by the handing over of memorandums detailing the party’s demands, including that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) drop charges against Zuma.
Pinetown police spokesperson Inspector Solomon Mbhele said a crowd of about 1 000 converged outside the court.
Some, he said, were armed with sticks.
“The protestors were trying to get into the court, but police with riot shields managed to stop them. Some protestors were also throwing the orange cones that were demarcating the surrounding roads,” Mbhele said.
“There was not too much violence,” he said.
John Mchunu, ANC eThekwini general secretary, said that officials closed the door to the court building, preventing the protestors from entering.
He said: “We are members of the public, and like them we have a right to enter the building.”
Meanwhile, a crowd of about 100 were seen picketing outside the Durban Magistrate’s Court.
Protestors held a big banner that read: “We shall take arms if need be to support ANC president Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma.”
In KwaMashu, police spokesperson Constable Siwe Nxumalo reported that at least 300 supporters were protesting outside the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court.
At the Umlazi court, police spokesperson Superintendent Danelia Veldhuizen said there were about 100 protesters.
There were unconfirmed reports of cases at the court being rolled over due to high noise levels.
Captain Edmund Singh said a small group of about 50 protesters had gathered at the Chatsworth Magistrate’s Court.
Overall, Mchunu declared Friday’s protests successful.
Another protest is planned for September 10 outside the NPA’s offices in Durban.
On the eve of September 12, when Zuma finds out whether Judge Chris Nicholson has ruled in his favour to have the decision to charge him declared unlawful, protesters will converge on Pietermaritzburg’s Freedom Square for a night vigil.
Zuma faces charges that include corruption and fraud.
He was charged in 2005 but that case was struck from the roll in 2006.
Two Thint companies—Thint Holding (Southern Africa) Pty Ltd and Thint (Pty) Ltd—are South African subsidiaries of the French arms manufacturing giant Thales International (formerly Thomson-CFS) and they also face similar charges for allegedly paying him bribes.—Sapa
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