The scene outside African National Congress headquarters in Johannesburg was calm on Wednesday following violent clashes between police and supporters of youth league leader Julius Malema on Tuesday.
About 200 supporters were gathered behind razorwire barricades at Beyers Naude square. “We are here to support our leader. We aren’t tired and we won’t leave,” said a supporter who identified himself as Simphiwe.
On Tuesday, supporters hurled bottles and broken bricks at journalists and police officers.
“We are not expecting any further numbers to assemble but we are maintaining a strong presence just in case anything happens,” Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Superintendent Wayne Minnaar told the Mail & Guardian.
However an unidentified policeman wearing riot gear told the M&G that police were expecting more supporters to be bussed into the square later in the day.
Traffic was flowing along Sauer Street and shops were open after benig forced to shut on Tuesday.
A policeman and six journalists were hit by projectiles on Tuesday, including a Carte Blanche cameraman, Dudley Saunders, who suffered a gash on his forehead.
South African Press Association photographer Werner Beukes, two eNews journalists Belinda Moses and Cathy Mohlahlana, Star photographer Boxer Ngwenya and Citizen photographer Michel Bega were also hit by projectiles thrown by Malema supporters.
The ANC said on Tuesday the hearing would be moved to a different venue, but spokesperson Jackson Mthembu on Wednesday morning said it would continue at Luthuli House.
“The hearing will be held at Luthuli House, however if the situation does not improve from Tuesday, it will be moved to an alternative venue,” Mthembu said.
“The national disciplinary committee would make the final decision when or if to move venues.”
Malema, league spokesman Floyd Shivambu, deputy president Ronald Lamola, secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, his deputy Kenetswe Mosenogi, and treasurer-general Pule Mabe face charges of bringing the ANC into disrepute and sowing divisions in ANC ranks.
This was after Malema 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”.
Attacks to be ‘deplored’
Meanwhile, the South African National Editors’ Forum said in a statement on Wednesday that it was “shocked and dismayed” by reports that journalists were harassed, threatened and had stones and bottles thrown at them during the protest.
“It is completely unacceptable that journalists were targeted for attack. An eyewitness reported seeing a television cameraman being struck in the face by a brick, while it was also reported that a correspondent for a foreign news agency was threatened with rape, among other incidents,” said the statement.
Photo gallery: Chaos outside Luthuli House
“Sanef notes that Malema told his supporters that journalists should not be attacked as they were merely ‘the messengers’.”
“We urge that they heed his call and that the youth league inform its members of the need for journalists to be allowed to carry out their professional duties without interference.”
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