Malema supporters gatecrash ANC gathering

A fight broke out between security and President Jacob Zuma’s detractors.

A video grab shows pushing and shoving. Video: Rahima Essop/EWN

THOHOYANDOU - President Jacob Zuma's detractors used the ANC's centenary lecture in Thohoyandou, Limpopo, to voice their support for expelled ANC Youth League (ANCYL) leader Julius Malema.

Tuesday's event was marred by violence from the start.

The trouble started shortly after 4pm when a fight broke out between security officials and a group of people who had been singing anti-Zuma songs inside the church where the president was scheduled to speak.

The situation inside the venue had calmed down by the time Zuma delivered his speech on the legacy of the party's former president Nelson Mandela, but tensions flared outside.

Demonstrators clashed with police - who used a water cannon to disperse them.

One Malema supporter said: "We want the reinstatement of the president of the ANCYL - comrade Julius Malema. We want Malema back."

Another supporter accused Zuma of being a rapist.

"Zuma is a rapist and we want a change in leadership"

Five people involved in a scuffle outside the venue were arrested by police, but later released on a warning.

The violence that erupted at the lecture's venue once again highlighted the fractious nature of the ANC and showed that Zuma faces stiff opposition in Limpopo.

The former ANCYL leader was expelled in April, after he made comments that Zuma had turned the ANC into an unbearable "dictatorship" during a speech at Wits University.

His efforts to have his expulsion reviewed last month proved futile.

Meanwhile, the ruling party will hold its national elective conference in December, in Mangaung.