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Mashaba, EFF to lay charges against ANC councillors over violence at meeting

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba says he will lay criminal charges against 10 ANC councillors for allegedly causing violence during a public consultation meeting in Midrand, north of Johannesburg.

But the ANC spokesperson for Johannesburg laid the blame on the Economic Freedom Fighters. The EFF countered this, saying the ANC had, for the past two months, had a strategy of disrupting integrated development plan (IDP) meetings – and it too would lay charges against ANC members.

The mayor was hosting the IDP meeting at Midrand High School on Tuesday night.

Mashaba said a number of people were hurt, including an Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) member who suffered a gash to his head and Democratic Alliance Ward 112 branch chairperson Andrew Osmond, who was hit with a brick on the back of his head and taken to hospital with a concussion.

The Johannesburg metro police were called in to quell the violence. Three police officers and two other EFF members were also injured, said the police and the party.

Mashaba said the charges would include damage to property and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said no arrests have yet been made, but the incident would be investigated. He added that the meeting, which was chaired by council speaker Vasco da Gama, continued after order was restored.

Blaming ANC ‘unfortunate’

Johannesburg ANC spokesperson Jolidee Matongo said it was unfortunate that Mashaba had chosen to blame ANC councillors, adding that the party would defend the officials.

 Matongo said that shortly after Da Gama opened the meeting, a resident stood up to raise a point of order before Mashaba could begin his address.

“When the mayor was about to speak, a citizen of the area raised a point of order to indicate his concern to say, ‘When we are told that today we are going to get a consolidation of a report of the IDP session of the ward in your area, how do they [do it] because in some of the wards only three of the 11 wards in the area had the IDP engagements? The other wards didn’t have, so if you say you are bringing a consolidated input from the region, where does it come from?'”

Matongo said members of the EFF, dressed in the party’s regalia, instructed the man who had raised the point to sit down. “That is when the violence started,” he said.

He said ANC members had gone to the meeting in plain clothes because they had been told it was being hosted by the city and was not a political party event, adding that the only people at the meeting dressed in their political party attire were the Democratic Alliance and the EFF.

“We issued an instruction to all ANC members not to disrupt, but to make inputs on what they need to see happening in the city on the IDP. If you go there, you go there as members of the public to make inputs there,” Matongo said.

Disruption strategy

But EFF regional secretary Silumko Mabona said the disruption was one of many that the ANC had carefully orchestrated to ensure that the IDP meetings would not yield any results.

“This is an ongoing and planned strategy that is being used by the ANC in greater Johannesburg, in terms of all the public participation meetings that have been planned by the city.

“They have managed to collapse … 80 to 90% of these ward-based meetings,” Mabona said, adding that such disruptions had started as far back as two months ago, when the IDP sessions began.

“It’s something that has been taking place where ANC members will just make sure that the meeting collapses. So it has been a challenge that’s been going from all the regions of Johannesburg, including Orange Farm and parts of Soweto. They’ve managed to collapse those meetings.”

Citizens suffer
Mabona said this strategy meant the residents were the ultimate losers, because “they don’t have water, they don’t have electricity and they would like the City of Johannesburg to move [on these issues]”. 

“Now it’s clear intimidation from the ANC, they don’t want the public to be participating in such forums.

“Ours was to make sure that the public participates and that they get all their views across and that was halted and violated by ANC members.” – News24

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