As the police continues to put to rest the violence that has rocked parts of Pretoria, protesters say they would set the entire Pretoria ablaze if the ruling ANC will not listen to their rejection of Thoko Didiza as mayoral candidate for Tshwane.
Protesters have on Tuesday, continued to torch buses and tyres and barricading roads in South Africa’s capital after the ANC named a mayoral candidate not nominated by the ruling party’s regional branches.
Despite heavy police presence on Pretoria streets, the violence has continued to spread overnight from the townships leading to vehicles being torched‚ businesses ransacked and roads blocked in Atteridgeville‚ Hammanskraal‚ Mamelodi and Garankuwa.
A BuzzSouthAfrica reporter who witnessed some of the violent protests in Atteridgeville said protesters could be seen shouting “no Sputla‚ no vote”‚ as they vowed to continue with their actions until the decision to replace current Tshwane mayor Sputla Ramokgopa with Thoko Didiza is reversed.
“We do not know Didiza. She is not from Tshwane. We nominated Sputla and we will only accept him‚” resident Themba Ndala said.
The nearby N4 highway to Rustenburg is also reported to be affected by the violence as large crowd engaged themselves in battles with the police‚ who appeared to be overstretched‚ along the highway. The roads have been barricaded with burning tyres and mobs turned cars away.
Tshwane Metro Police Department spokesperson Isaac Mahamba said there has been serious “challenges” around the Daspoort tunnel, north of Pretoria.
“The protesters blocked the tunnel twice. We reopened it and they blocked it again. We are still on the ground and monitoring the situation,” said Mahamba.
“Right now I am in Hammanskraal and there are also some few issues here. The protesters burnt a truck and a bus this morning.”
The tunnel remained closed to traffic and a large crowd of protesters gathered a few metres away, blocking the usually busy Bremer. Several fires were burning on the road and across the city, at least 21 buses were torched overnight in Mamelodi, north of Pretoria.
Meanwhile, the ANC has distanced itself from the violence that has overwhelmed the town of Tshwane. The party’s head of elections Nomvula Mokonyane said it was pure criminality as the Tshwane ANC leadership had accepted the decision of the party’s national executive committee.
Mokonyane who is also Minister of Water Affairs and Sanitation said Protesters do not understand how ANC works. They are being “orchestrated” she said,
“We must first say it started with members of the ANC misbehaving; I was next to Pretoria showgrounds on Sunday and members of the ANC were carrying placards and coffins, they created this. It was then hijacked by agent provocateurs,” she added.
However, an ANC regional executive committee source‚ who asked not to be named‚ appeared to contradict this‚ saying: “This new mayor is being imposed on us. We didn’t ask for her and we won’t accept her. We will burn the whole of Pretoria if needs be.”
Mokonyane on her own part, appealed to ANC members in Tshwane to give Didiza a chance saying once Didiza was given the space to interact with communities in Tshwane she would have them eating from her palm.