EFF Mpumalanga leaders – Collen Sedibe and Cyril Chuene are currently feeling blue following their arrest for trespassing, incitement to public violence, as well as other charges under the Regulation of Gatherings Act.
Provincial leader Sedibe (45) and Councillor Chuene (40) made their first court appearance at the White River Magistrate’s Court on Monday and were granted R500 bail each.
The leaders were arrested after Sedibe posted about ‘land freebie’ on his Facebook page over the weekend. He offered to give willing party members land as part of a “land distribution programme”.
Sedibe promised to donate a beautiful piece of land to willing members and instructed them to just arrive at Hillsview, near White River, at 08:00 on Sunday, to receive a free stand.
As gathered, the offer was for members who could not afford to buy houses or rent flats, but who wanted to live closer to town.
As soon as the message surfaced on social media, a lot of people showed up as instructed but the municipality immediately rushed to the Nelspruit police, where it opened a case against the fighters. They were later arrested by policemen.
Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi condemned the act; adding that Sedibe’s message was viewed as inciting people to commit an illegal act of occupying land unlawfully.
Mpumalanga Community Safety MEC Pat Ngomane welcomed their arrests. He urged party leaders to educate their followers to abide by the law and not encourage hooliganism.
“Land redistribution is a sensitive matter which cuts across many generations, particularly in rural areas. We cannot allow any backwardness to prevail with regard to land,” Ngomane said.
Meanwhile, the case against the fighters was postponed to February 20 for further investigation. As part of their bail condition, they were warned not to commit any crime and should not interfere with the investigation.
Last week, conflict erupted between black and white residents in Pretoria over land grabs.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) spokesperson Kay Makhubela told reporters that the black people in the community were protesting against their white counterparts whom they said were preventing them from building houses on lands in the area.
The intensified calls to reinvigorate land expropriation, better known as land grabs in South Africa, is being spearheaded by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). In fact, land expropriation is a chief policy in the EFF.
As far back as 2013, the party in a briefing held in August, in Johannesburg reiterated its commitment towards its policy of land grabs. EFF leader at the time said: “Anyone who resists the surrender of land will meet [with] the determination of the people.”