Zandile Gumede mum as eight people arrested after Durban city hall chaos

11 July 2019 - 12:34 By Orrin Singh, SUTHENTIRA GOVENDER and LWANDILE BHENGU
Police arrest supporters of eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede outside the Durban city hall on July 11 2019.
Police arrest supporters of eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede outside the Durban city hall on July 11 2019.
Image: Orrin Singh

Police arrested eight people at a protest outside the Durban city hall on Thursday.

Speaking outside Durban Central police station, where the individuals are being held, provincial police spokesperson Col Thembeka Mbele said seven people have been charged with public violence, while a journalist has been charged with assault.

"There is a case of public violence that has been opened. On that case seven people have been arrested. There is an assault on police case that has been opened separately."

Mbele said the journalist, identified as Sihle Mavuso of Independent Media, allegedly assaulted a police officer who was trying to move him away from an area where they were doing their jobs.

"One of the police officer's jackets was torn after he was attacked by that journalist."

Mbele said police would monitor the situation closely for the rest of the day.

Earlier, police fired stun grenades to disperse protesters who gathered on Dr Pixley Ka Seme Street in anticipation of eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede's return to work.

What started as a handful of Gumede supporters soon grew to a group of about 100 people. They blockaded the city hall and stopped traffic in the city centre "to welcome her back to work".

Gumede, who was asked to take a 30-day leave of absence from work, was due to return to office on Thursday. However, she will not return yet, as the ANC said an investigation into allegations of fraud and corruption against her was still incomplete.

When contacted on Thursday, Gumede told TimesLIVE said she did not want to comment on the situation at the city hall.

It is understood that protesters are currently regrouping at Gugu Dlamini Park in the CBD. 

The DA condemned the chaos allegedly perpetrated by Gumede supporters.

DA eThekwini chief whip Thabani Mthethwa said an economic development and planning committee meeting was cancelled and staff sent home because of the "volatile situation".

"The community services committee was also scheduled to sit today, and will likely also be cancelled.

"Gumede's supporters again blocked various parts of the city centre this morning, as well as access to city hall.

"It's unclear why this kind of behaviour is not handled criminally and those who block roads and access ways for ordinary people are not arrested and charged.

"It's simply unacceptable that the city's administrative and political home is completely disabled and this thuggish behaviour is repeatedly allowed.

"If Gumede's supporters want to picket in support of a corrupt and incapable mayor, they must do so peacefully and not block other people and vehicles," said Mthethwa.

He accused the ANC of being indecisive about Gumede's future.

"This indecision clearly shows that the ANC isn't serious about ridding public office of their corrupt deployees."

Mdumiseni Ntuli, ANC provincial secretary-general, said: "We have also called on law enforcement to act relentlessly against those disrupting work at city hall and in the city in the cover of ANC colours. We, as the ANC, have not sanctioned any protest and will take action against those involved."

Meanwhile, the SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) has condemned the arrest of Mavuso, calling for an investigation and charges against him to be dropped.

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