Call for intervention in Pretoria name-change row

A black Pretoria resident hit a white resident with a chair during heated public consultations over proposed name changes to city streets, the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) said on Thursday.

FF+ spokesperson in the greater Pretoria area Willie Spies blamed the African National Congress for ”reckless handling of the street-name issue”.

He said ”intervention” in the Pretoria street-name changing process was necessary.

According to the party, a black resident and a white resident who participated in the name-change public consultations were involved in an argument, which wound up with the black resident hitting his fellow resident with a chair.

”During the resultant heated arguing, a white resident was arrested, while the person who had launched the assault with the chair was not even addressed. He, in fact, was later invited back to the events by the organisers of the meeting,” said Spies in a statement.

He compared the situation to that of violent outbreaks in other African countries.

Police spokesperson Captain Lucas Sithole said a 26-year-old white man had been arrested on Wednesday evening.

”There was a meeting at the hall. An argument ensued, and a 26-year-old man was arrested for assaulting a police officer. The man is facing a charge of assaulting an officer and will appear in court soon,” said Sithole.

Spies said the party would speed up legal action against the Tshwane metro city in order to have the street-renaming process declared illegal.

The party said it would hold a press conference on Friday detailing its legal action.

Meanwhile, the Pro-Afrikaans Action Group (PRAAG) said the action shown by the police in ”openly siding with one ethnic group” was the ”final nail in the coffin of South African democracy”.

City spokesperson Console Tleane said the incident was due to a small group of people who move from one meeting to another in order to disrupt them.

”The meeting at Pretoria North was almost disrupted when the same group wanted to stall it. Pandemonium broke when the meeting almost deteriorated, but the speaker managed to contain the situation,” said Tleane.

The city said that this and other incidents had been captured on video, depicting the same group of people.

”It is disheartening to see a small number of individuals undermining a progressive and legitimate process of public participation wanting to hijack public meetings,” Tleane said. — Sapa

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