Gunman arrested during Nkandla protest

The police arrested a man who allegedly fired a shot during a protest against the DA’s visit to Nkandla.

ANC supporters are seen demonstrating outside the Nkandla Police Station on 4 November 2012. DA leader Helen Zille was there to lay a charge. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.

NKANDLA - A man was on Sunday arrested for allegedly firing a shot in the air during a demonstration against DA leader Helen Zille's visit to President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla home in KwaZulu-Natal.

The man will face a charge of firing a weapon at a public gathering.

The Democratic Aliiance leader and her entourage were escorted out of the KwaZulu-Natal village by a long police convoy, after her trip to inspect the reported multi-million rand upgrade to the president's homestead was halted in its tracks by a group of ANC members.

The police had their hands full earlier, in their efforts to keep supporters of the two parties separate, in fear of possible clashes.

Police spokesperson Jay Naicker said the man was found in possession of two firearms.

He said officers and marshalls heard a gunshot go off and then noticed the man running amongst the crowd with a rifle in his hands.

The gunman was immediately apprehended and removed from the crowd.

Meanwhile, Zille has laid a charge under the Gatherings Act against the ANC, following a standoff between her supporters and ANC demonstrators.

Members of the ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, had lay on the road leading up to the residence, preventing DA leaders from approaching.

A group of around 200 people, clad in green and yellow ANC t-shirts, sang outside the Nkandla Police Station where Zille and other DA members went after they were turned away from approaching the president's home.

The protesters demanded that the DA leader and her supporters leave the area.

Some tried to push through gates at the police station, but a large group of public order police ensured that was not the case.

Not deterred by the heat or heavy police presence, the group blocked a road leading to Nkandla to make sure the DA leader did indeed leave the area.

Zille abandoned the press conference that was meant to be held following her visit, as she left the police station, entered the vehicle she was travelling in and left with her VIP protection leading the way.

Officers on the ground formed a human train, making sure demonstrators could not get close to Zille's convoy.

There was a large celebration as the DA leader and her supporters departed Nkandla.

The opposition party had planned to deliver over a thousand letters from children to the president, to remind him "of what the real priorities of government spending should be".

The DA said the letters were written by children affected by the Limpopo textbook scandal.

It announced it would give Zuma until Wednesday to respond to a memorandum it handed to him last month, saying he would face legal action if he failed to do so.

"On the 16th of October we wrote to the President, and to various government ministers, asking for the truth about Nkandla. We asked them for details on how much was spent, on what, by whom, and under what provision of law."