Calls for Mayor to retract SABC comment threatening protestors with arrest

WITH tension mounting as thousands of South Africans plan to March for Change in nationwide protests on Friday, threats of violence and intimidation have surfaced on social media warning protestors that marches are illegal and will detrimentally affect the economy.

In Durban this morning, eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede reportedly told SABC radio that the proposed march was tantamount to treason and said police had been instructed to arrest anyone marching against president Jacob Zuma.

The Mayor was quoted saying the march was ‘uncalled’ for and urged the community to refrain from taking part in ‘these nasty marches’.

In response,  DA KZN chairperson, Haniff Hoosen, said  Gumede’s alleged controversial statement had only fuelled the protest action and that more people were inspired to take part in the march.

“Our phones have been ringing off the hook. People are now more determined than ever, as the citizens know their rights,” he said.

He said the the DA was fully aware of a ‘deliberate strategy by the ANC to peddle fear into the hearts of citizens’ in the hope that in would discourage them from taking to the streets.

Hoosen assured the public that they had received full permission from police services to lead the peaceful protests.

“I have personally been informed that the Metro Police, Public Order Policing and the Crime Intelligence Unit will be out in their hundreds to ensure that the marches will be safe,” he said.

KZN leader of the DA, Zwakele Mncwango responded in a media statement saying the DA had, through its lawyers, written to  Gumede, giving her until this morning to publicly retract her unconstitutional and undemocratic threats to arrest participants in tomorrow’s mass actions.

“Gumede’s promise to arrest anyone who marches tomorrow undermines the fundamental right in our constitution to peacefully protest. Gumede will defend Zuma at all costs,” he said.

“Gumede’s unlawful threat and intimidation against our lawful march cannot go unchallenged. We await a swift and unconditional retraction from Mayor Gumede,” he said, warning that should the mayor not do so publicly, the opposition would approach the High Court on a urgent basis to interdict Gumede. 

KZN police spokesman, Lt/col Thulani Zwane, confirmed that police will monitor the situation, and appealed to the public to maintain a peaceful march.

The national protest comes in response to President’s Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle last week, during which Pravin Gordhan and several other ministers were axed.

Over the past few days a social media message, claiming to have been sent out on behalf of East Coast Radio has also added to the tension.

The message reads:

“ECR Just Anouced That For The First Time Ever SA Is Standing Up For Whats Right.

The Strike is On The 7 April 2017

Please guys whose not marching or protesting

Stay indoors because they said at the looks of things they heading for war

Stay safe and don’t walk on roads also no transport will be available to go anywhere because they are going to be stoning vehicles n burning tyres

Keep your kids indoor and close all doors and windows at home

Rather be safe

From ECR

The popular radio station has however turned to social media to distance itself from the viral message.

A WhatsApp message alleging violence and encouraging people to stay in their homes on Friday is doing the rounds. It…

Posted by East Coast Radio on Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Wanda Daly

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