Magashule supporters in jovial mood as they gather at Bloem night vigil
The ANC secretary-general is set to appear in the Bloemfontein magistrate's court on Friday
Ardent supporters of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule descended on Bloemfontein's Loch Logan Park Rose Garden on Thursday night before the heavy-hitter's appearance in court on Friday morning.
Magashule is expected to appear in the Bloemfontein magistrate's court in connection with a controversial Free State government asbestos roofing project, which has seen seven others make court appearances since last month.
MK Military Veterans Association spokesperson Carl Niehaus was one of the first to arrive at the event on Thursday evening. He was due to address the crowd.
A truck, which was used as a stage, was stationed to face the crowd of about 200 people, who were singing struggle songs and were in a jovial mood.
Most of those in attendance were not wearing ANC regalia. Only a smattering of ANC branded T-shirts and caps were visible.
However, Niehaus, who joined the crowd in dance, was wearing an ANC golf shirt.
The ANC's top officials at a press conference at party headquarters on Wednesday, cautioned Magashule's supporters against donning party regalia in support of Magashule.
More than 40 cars and six minibus taxis were parked at the venue, and there were a number of people who had started drinking alcoholic drinks.
Three police vans were circling the area.
A group of four supporters, who asked not to be named, said they were going to be singing and dancing throughout the night.
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“The aim is to march from here to court [on Friday]. We came from Excelsior, Mantsopa, Thabo Mofutsane, Lejwe Leputswa, for the night vigil to support comrade Ace,” one of the men said.
He said they would be in large groups.
“We hear that there’s more people coming in from all the provinces, including KZN and Mpumalanga, they’ll join us here and again tomorrow,” he said.
Meanwhile, many ANC members in the Free State said they were disgusted by the decision to “mobilise the structures of the movement to support comrade Ace Magashule during his court appearance on Friday”, saying this flew in the face of a decision from the party's national office bearers.
“It is our contention that the secretary-general of the ANC faces charges in his personal capacity and in no ways related to his membership of the ANC or his responsibility in the movement,” a statement - signed off by Ike Moroe, Tshidi Setai and Deon Leeuw - on Thursday read.
It continued that the support for Magashule “mocks the plight of the communities who are being cheated of their health and wellbeing by the scandalous asbestos roofing rehabilitation project”.
“We believe our movement is landing itself on course for renewal and the spurious efforts to support people appearing on corruption charges only serve to supplant that renewal effort,” they said.