Singer’s blouse ripped off as artists clash with police

Artists irked after meeting was cancelled at the last minute

03 November 2021 - 10:48
Singer Sibongile Mngoma after clashing with police.
Singer Sibongile Mngoma after clashing with police.
Image: Supplied

Artists were dragged away to clear the way for vehicles at the entrance to sport, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa’s Pretoria offices on Tuesday.

Five artists were among the creatives who blocked the entrance to the building. They were also pushed around by police.

In videos and pictures posted by the group of artists, opera singer Sibongile Mngoma was left topless after her blouse was ripped off by police.

The group had visited the department’s offices wanting answers on the memorandum of demands they submitted last week.

The situation was so tense that metro police, and soldiers were brought in to allow staff locked inside the building to leave.

The department and creatives were supposed meet on Tuesday morning but the meeting was postponed to Friday at the 11th hour.

When the artists arrived in the morning, the building was protected by security personnel. The artists said they were not going anywhere until they were attended to.  

“After we had a good meeting with the department last week they agreed to meet us today. They decided to postpone the meeting at the 11th hour. I received a text when I was on my way here from Bloemfontein. I refused to allow that to happen. The cancellation was at the last minute. Now they are harassing us for having this peaceful picket. They have dragged me on the floor. I have bruises,” Mngoma said.

Last week the artists tabled their demands, including a call for Mthethwa’s resignation, over what they said was a lack of understanding of the industry.

Presidency spokesperson Tyrone Seale has failed to respond to requests for comment on the matter.

He was sent two emails last week. His phone went unanswered and he did not respond to a WhatsApp text, despite reading it.

The group also demanded the public release of the forensic report on the mismanagement of Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme funds, and wants the department to release all information regarding recipients of Mzansi Golden Economy funding.

“Whoever is inside will never go out. We don’t mind standing here for 60 days, like we did with the National Arts Council. Those who are outside will not access the building until someone speaks to us.”

Department spokesperson Zimasa Velaphi said she was consulting with her bosses and would come back with a response.

Masechaba Ndlovu, spokesperson for the department, said: “The meeting was postponed to November 5 to accommodate other sector organisations so the department of sport, arts and culture can engage in a broader sectoral meeting. This was communicated and Ms Mngoma was well aware of this but insisted on making her way to the department’s offices.”

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