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DA: ANC violence not surprising

The ANC says its members were provoked by the DA during a protest in Johannesburg.

DA leader Helen Zille addresses the crowd during the party's march in Johannesburg, 12 February 2014. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Wednesday said it's not surprised by the violence which brought its jobs march to a premature end.

The DA had to cut its gathering short after ANC supporters clashed with police in the Johannesburg city centre this afternoon.

Four people, believed to be affiliated to the ruling party, were arrested during the demonstration and will be charged with public violence.

The opposition party originally planned to march to the ANC's Luthuli House headquarters but were only granted permission to go as far as Beyers Naude Square.

ANC members sang and dances, shouting 'Voetsek Helen Zille' as they marched against DA protesters nearby. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

The Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) says the ANC was never given permission to gather there, saying two parties would not be allowed to march in the same area on the same day.

But thousands of supporters showed up to oppose the DA.

The ANC says violence on the part of its members was entirely provoked by the opposition.

It also claims some of its members were injured.

The DA has levelled the same accusations against ANC members.

Police were unable to confirm any injuries.

VIOLENT CLASHES

During the march, a group of ANC supporters charged at the thousands of DA members as they approached the square.

The DA was then forced to turn back as police warned it was too dangerous to occupy the area.

Stun grenades were fired outside to disperse ANC supporters.

During the commotion, a man wearing an ANC T-shirt threw a petrol bomb at officers in riot gear.

Police were deployed in large numbers to keep a close eye on the march. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

The police's Katlego Mogale says officers then had to prevent a group of ANC supporters from attacking the DA marchers, while also defending themselves.

"We created a buffer between the parties and as the members were proceeding up Rissik Street, members of the police were pelted with stones and a petrol bomb."

Police then responded with the stun grenades and made arrests.

"Currently, we have four people arrested who were wearing ANC T-shirts," Mogale says.

'NO SURPRISE'

The DA's Mmusi Maimane, who is standing as the party's candidate for Gauteng premier, says he's not shocked by the violence.

He also denied an earlier claim by the ANC that his party did not have a memorandum to hand over.

ANC supporters kept police on their toes as they marched through the streets. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

The ruling party's Jessie Duarte said the DA was simply looking for trouble and hoping to create violent scenes outside Luthuli House by showing up uninvited and without a memorandum.

At the same time, Gauteng ANC Secretary General David Makhura says the demonstration was designed to divert attention away from the DA's internal problems.

"There's no democracy in the world where the actions of the DA would be explainable. To decide to march to the offices of a political party is a desperate act."

He says the march was illogical and arrogant.

But Makhura conceded he had to confiscate several sticks and stones found in the possession of ANC party members.

He denies claims ANC members were using the weapons for violent purposes.

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