‘We will burn the whole of Pretoria if needs be’

Residents have blocked entrances to Atteridgeville with burning tyres and rocks. Picture: Solly Msimanga ‏@SollyMsimanga.

Residents have blocked entrances to Atteridgeville with burning tyres and rocks. Picture: Solly Msimanga ‏@SollyMsimanga.

THE violent fallout over the announcement of the African National Congress (ANC) mayoral candidate for Tshwane turned large parts of townships in the area into no-go zones on Tuesday morning.

Police officers‚ including cops on leave‚ have been drafted in from other areas to quell the violence that has seen vehicles being torched‚ business ransacked and roads blocked in Atteridgeville‚ Hammanskraal‚ Mamelodi and Garankuwa.

Journalists were threatened on Tuesday morning‚ with a Sowetan reporter in Atteridgeville being warned by an agitated protester who was covering his face with a jacket and carrying a brick: “Take my picture‚ you will be the next thing on flames.”

Most main roads in and out of the townships were barricaded with burning debris‚ leaving people unable to get out of the township to go to work.

The nearby N4 highway to Rustenburg was also affected as it was barricaded with burning tyres and mobs turned cars away. A large crowd engaged in running battles with the police‚ who appeared to be overstretched‚ along the highway.

Gauteng police said on Tuesday morning that a joint operation centre was established in Tshwane to manage policing in the area‚ and provincial commissioner Deliwe De Lange said anyone found committing a crime would be arrested immediately.

Protesters in Atteridgeville shouted “no Sputla‚ no vote”‚ and 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.

Ramokgopa on Tuesday denounced the violence‚ saying it was pure criminality as the Tshwane ANC leadership had accepted the decision of the party’s national executive committee.

But 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 wont accept her. We will burn the whole of Pretoria if needs be.”

He added that there was grave concern over the violence: “People were warning that it was coming but no one has listened and now you see this. If it’s not dealt with quickly it’s going to get a lot worse.”

The ANC on Monday confirmed that one of its members was killed during a confrontation at the Tshwane Events Centre on Sunday night.

On Monday night‚ at least 20 buses were torched and a metro police vehicle was also reportedly set alight.

The ANC has condemned the violence and called on its members to rally behind Didiza.– TMG Digital/The Times/Sowetan/BDlive

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