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ANC members started Tshwane violence, state security minister admits

TMG Digital | 2016-06-22 08:18:37.0
David Mahlobo said that tension had been expected in Tshwane – as well as a number of other areas identified as “hotspots” – in the run-up to the August 3 local government‚ and said that the anticipated “tensions” were both intra- and inter-party. File photo
Image by: Gallo Images

Tshwane was expected to be an “election hotspot”‚ but the level of violence the city has seen since the weekend was not anticipated‚ Minister of State Security David Mahlobo on Wednesday.

He also acknowledged‚ in an interview with Radio 702‚ that the protests were sparked by African National Congress (ANC) members “who were not satisfied with the processes” that saw the party name Thoko Didiza as its mayoral candidate.

This was a departure from other ruling party leaders who had‚ over the last two days‚ denied any involvement of its members in the violence‚ which has left at least one person dead‚ buses torched and shops looted.

The ANC Youth League‚ however‚ on Tuesday placed the blame firmly at the feet of supporters of incumbent mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa‚ whom they wanted to remain in office.

There has been tension in the region between factions loyal to Ramokgopa and his deputy Mapiti Matsena‚ both of whom lost out after the national leadership intervened and instead put forward Didiza on Monday.

Mahlobo said that tension had been expected in Tshwane – as well as a number of other areas identified as “hotspots” – in the run-up to the August 3 local government‚ and said that the anticipated “tensions” were both intra- and inter-party.

Mahlobo‚ however‚ stressed that the initial protests by those against Didiza’s appointment had been “taken to a new level” to “gangs”‚ “youths on drugs”‚ "opportunistic" members of the community with a “criminal agenda”‚ and said proof of this could be seen in the “sporadic” spread of the violence.

The minister also claimed that information from “the ground”‚ gleaned by state and crime intelligence operatives‚ pointed to a new “level of organisation” developing in the violence.

Intelligence Bureau SA on Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Mahlobo would not be drawn on who was behind this organisation other than to say “we know their names”.

While acknowledging that trouble persisted overnight‚ he said law enforcement had restored a semblance of calm to Tshwane‚ and “people were starting to go about their lives” on Wednesday.

Residents of the capital woke to reports of looting and early morning commuters had to navigate roads strewn with rocks and tyres as the capital city braced itself for a third day of protests.

Nineteen Autopax buses worth about R28-million have been destroyed by protestors over the past two days . Worst affected have been the areas around Mamelodi‚ Atteridgeville‚ Mabopane‚ Soshanguve and Hammanskraal.

Police reinforcements have been sent to the city‚ along with water cannons‚ to quell the civil unrest.

Early reports on social media indicated that the CBD – where shops closed their doors along with some government offices who let staff go home early on Tuesday – was calm.

But there were several reports of roads littered with debris and rocks‚ frustrating commuters.

“Avoid Main Reef by old roseacres and Pretoria rd Primrose‚ protestors blocked roads with rocks and tyres‚” said one user on Twitter.

Mathlavani Matsheke warned that “Primrose on Pretoria road is closed by rocks. So avoid if possible.”

Jacaranda FM Traffic reported protest action after Bremer Street on the Mabopane Highway inbound‚ with slow moving traffic.

The Automobile Association also flagged protest action blocking the road between Ga-Rankuwa and Rosslyn.

- TMG Digital

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