By Sihle Mavuso
Johannesburg – The protest march to ANC’s headquarters (Luthuli House) in central Johannesburg, which was planned for Monday, ended with seven of the ring leaders behind bars.
The march was organised by a grouping mobilising under the banner of “Gatvol South African Citizens” and it was meant to “put pressure” on the ANC to recall its president, Cyril Ramaphosa, from the country’s presidency.
The protest march was supposed to commence from the open space in front of the Johannesburg CBD main library to Luthuli House, which is a stone’s throw away – along Sauer street.
The national organizer of the march, Mduduzi Nkambule, a long-time ANC member from Bloemfontein in the Free State, told Independent Media on Monday afternoon that the “crowd” was violently dispersed by the police (SAPS), with him and six others from Cosas (Congress of South African Students) being detained.
“We have been arrested with members of Cosas because they got an order from their captain to shoot and arrest us. The SAPS couldn’t allow us to march or send the memorandum. They wanted us to be killed as their captain was saying it’s time to shoot,” Nkambule alleged to Independent Media via a Whatsapp message.
He later shared pictures of him and the six other bundled together in a police van and before they were moved to the Johannesburg Central police station. At that time of this report, it was not clear what charges they were facing and when they would appear in court.
SAPS national spokesperson, Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said she was trying to verify the arrests.
When the protest was announced last week, the spokesperson of Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD), Wayne Minnaar, said it was not authorised as there was no application from its organisers.
Repeated attempts to ascertain from Pule Mabe, the ANC national spokesperson, whether the party was aware of the protesters who wanted to deliver the memorandum were unsuccessful. He did not take calls and failed to respond to messages.
SAPS national spokesperson, Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said the seven people they arrested were among 30 to 40 who contravened the lockdown regulations on gatherings.
“Seven suspects have been arrested for contravention of the Disaster Management Lockdown Level 3 Regulations which remain in place pending the commencement of Level 2 with effect from 18 August 2020. This comes after Public Order Police on Monday morning dispersed a group of about 30 to 40 protesters at Luthuli House at Beyers Naude Square in Johannesburg.
“Public Order Police will maintain a presence in the area and keep a close eye to ensure adherence to the lockdown regulations,” she said.