2,000 angry protestors destroy Rustenburg hall, confront police minister Nathi Mthethwa…
2009-07-19 -- RUSTENBURG -- A public hall was damaged by some 2,000 protesters angry at the possible disbanding of the ANC provincial executive committee in Rustenburg, North West police said.
"Police had to fire rubber bullets while trying to disperse the unruly crowd. The protesters were throwing chairs at some ministers who were attending the meeting," said Captain Elsabe Augoustides. Protesters broke windows and a glass door of the Ben Marais hall and bullets were fired – one hit an unnamed SABC cameraman, who is now in hospital. About 2,000 people attended the meeting, according to the SABC. Two people were taken in for questioning." It was not clear whether the two were formally charged, said Augoustides, but a case of public violence was opened.
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa was mobbed the crowd – and the police had to rescue him, escorting him from the hall through a crowd of chanting marchers outside.
- They disrupted the meeting because the ANC-members opposed a move by the party's National Executive Committee to disband the province's committee, the SABC reported.
Over the weekend, the NEC also voted to disband two provincial structures - North West and Western Cape. Angry ordinary ANC members confronted the Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa, prompting police to intervene. Not taking the ANC NEC decision lying down, hundreds of ANC members stormed into a hall to disrupt the provincial general council – at the centre of the storm, a decision by the ANC to disband the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC).
Mthethwa was mobbed by the crowd as they demanded an explanation about why the PEC was disbanded. Police had to intervene and Mthethwa was escorted out of the hall. Police then used rubber bullets when the protesters tried to re-enter the hall. The meeting was then cancelled.
- The ANC spokesman says an interim structure that will run the province will be in place in the next few days.
The SABC reports that its cameraman, hit by "a stray bullet during the scuffle" has been admitted to a local hospital.
It was not clear whether anyone else had been injured during the ruckus, said Augoustides.
The African National Congress spokesman Brian Sokutu has condemned the incident. "We will not be held to ransom by criminal elements posing as ANC members and call on the police to investigate and bring the perpetrators to book," spokesman Brian Sokutu said in a statement. "The ANC also regrets reports of an alleged shooting said to have taken place outside the hall, resulting in an SABC photographer being injured," he said.