/ 15 February 2011

ANC condemns violent Ermelo protests

Anc Condemns Violent Ermelo Protests

The African National Congress (ANC) has condemned the violent protest in Ermelo, Mpumalanga, on Tuesday.

“While the leadership of the ANC acknowledges the challenges and the right of citizens to voice their concerns, there is no justification whatsoever for the communities to destroy government and private property,” spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said in a statement.

The blocking of roads and destruction of public property which costs taxpayers millions, cannot be condoned, he said.

An eNews cameraman was injured and an outside broadcast van was damaged when protesters turned on him and a reporter in Wesselton.

Live television footage on the eNews channel showed a group stoning a police vehicle, which sped away, and then rushing toward the cameraman and journalist, who sought cover in their van.

The cameraman’s hand was bleeding and the vehicle’s windows were damaged.

Journalist Jody Jacobs told viewers that their laptops were also damaged.

They were later moved to a place of safety.

Burning tyres and stones
Earlier, Mpumalanga police spokesperson Captain Leonard Hlathi said the protests, believed to be over service delivery issues, had entered a second day.

He could not confirm reports in Beeld that the protests were related to the community being unhappy about the ANC’s candidate lists for the local government elections.

The party’s Brian Sokutu said its understanding was that “this is a service delivery protest”.

“We were not given any details about the nominations list.”

Thirty-three people were to appear in the Ermelo Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday after they were arrested on Monday for public violence.

Hlathi said protesters barricaded roads by using burning tyres and stones on Monday.

“They broke down robots and some traffic signs,” he said.

Mthembu called on protesters to stop the violence.

“The ANC makes a call to all those individuals who are involved in such acts to immediately refrain from such acts of lawlessness.

“We appreciate the swift action by police for having restored stability in the areas and warn anyone seeking to engage in further forms of violence to expect the full might of the law,” he said.

Key concerns
The Human Sciences Research Council called on President Jacob Zuma to intervene.

“It may be necessary for the President to intervene directly, given the tone and content of the State of the Nation address,” said HSRC executive director Udesh Pillay in a statement.

“Bold, imaginative and unambiguous leadership is what is needed, not further diagnostic analyses.”

He said the violent nature of the protests, and the destruction of property “are key concerns”. — Sapa