Mail & Guardian

DA lashes out at ANC, ANCYL over CPT protests

31 Oct 2013 07:26

Following violence and looting in the Cape Town city centre, the DA has lashed out at the ANC and its youth league for “pure vandalism and thuggery”.

Breakaway groups looted stalls and robbed pedestrians while a crowd protested outside the offices of Helen Zille. (David Harrison, M&G)
Breakaway groups looted stalls and robbed pedestrians while a crowd protested outside the offices of Helen Zille. (David Harrison, M&G)

The ANC must dismiss councillor Loyiso Nkohla for inciting the violence in the Cape Town city centre on Wednesday, the DA said.

On the day, breakaway groups looted stalls and robbed pedestrians in Cape Town while a crowd protested outside the offices of the Western Cape premier Helen Zille.

“The actions by members and supporters of the ANC Youth League, led by ANC councillor Loyiso Nkohla and expelled ANC councillor Andile Lili, today [Wednesday] are pure vandalism and thuggery,” Democratic Alliance (DA) Western Cape leader Ivan Meyer said in a statement.

“The DA condemns this in the strongest terms.”

ANC Youth League Western Cape spokesperson Muhammad Khalid Sayed said there was no justification for the criminal activity in the city centre.

“Those responsible should be held accountable for their actions,” he said.

“No amount of frustration can be used as an excuse to harbour and protect thieves and looters.”

It was sad that the legitimate plight of people demanding quality service delivery and access to land was vulgarised by thugs hiding among people with legitimate concerns, he added.

‘Police can’t arrest us all’ Some protesters looted shops and vendors, and damaged property during a protest in the city centre, said Captain Frederick van Wyk.

He said it appeared around 3 500 people took part in the protest. No arrests had been made.

According to a newspaper report, Meyer said Nkohla had urged residents in a number of informal settlements to loot the city centre and start erecting illegal structures in and around the city.

“He was quoted saying, ‘You will not have to go hungry because there are so many places that you can loot in the city centre.  The police can’t arrest us all because there will be too many of us’ at a public meeting held in Nyanga over the weekend,” he said.

The DA said it would lay a charge of incitement to commit a crime against Nkohla in light of his statements and the violence and looting in the city centre.

Meyer said that, given the Constitutional Court ruling that the organisers of a march or gathering could be held liable for damage caused, the organisers of Wednesday’s march should also be held responsible for the damage caused.

“Today’s protest march to the [provincial] legislature in itself was purely political grandstanding,” he said.

‘Reprimand the youth league’ The FW de Klerk Foundation’s Centre for Constitutional Rights (CFCR) said in a statement that constitutionally enshrined rights to protest did not extend to criminal behaviour such as theft, destruction of property, intimidation and assault.

“Regardless of the grievances people may have, such criminal behaviour by protesters is unacceptable and should be condemned by all South Africans, including the ANC,” it said.

The CFCR noted that the youth league had reportedly called for governance in Cape Town and the Western Cape to be disrupted in the past.

“However, the ANC’s previous failures to reprimand the youth league for its calls to destabilise the Western Cape inevitably raise the question of whether the ANC tacitly supports such statements and threats.”

The CFCR also condemned the statements attributed to Nkohla.

“Statements inciting violent and criminal behaviour, or calling for any legitimately and democratically elected government within South Africa to be made ‘ungovernable’, are irreconcilable with our Constitution and should not be tolerated as acceptable social or political discourse.” – Sapa  M&G