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#TshwaneUnrest labelled ‘pure thuggery,’ protests rage on

Gwede Mantashe says the violence has nothing to do with the disapproval of mayoral candidate Thoko Didiza.

Tear gas lingers after police fired a canister into a group of protesters outside Shell garage on Khoza Street, Atteridgeville. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

PRETORIA - African National Congress (ANC) Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe says the violence in the metro is pure thuggery and has nothing to do with the disapproval of mayoral candidate Thoko Didiza.

The violence began on Sunday evening at the Tshwane Events Centre where branch leaders gathered to discuss the candidacy.

One person was shot dead and several others were wounded.

Last night, police clashed with protesters, believed to be disgruntled ANC members in Mamelodi and Atteridgeville, where buses were torched, shops looted and streets barricaded with debris.







Mantashe says thugs have taken over the metro.

"Thuggery is taking over politics in Tshwane. I'm concerned, that's why I'm saying it's thuggery, and thuggery is bad for politics."

Mantashe says the violence is also sparked by factionalism.

"I'm telling you, even if you can confirm Sputla [Kgosientso Ramokgopa] there will be burning, even if you confirm Mapiti [Matsena] there will be burning."

Mantashe says the ANC will continue to speak to its members, but believes the violence has little to do with the mayoral candidate selection.

"Therefore people who are burning buses, I'd say that's 70 percent thuggery, maybe 30 percent unhappiness."

He says the only way to stop the violence is when two factions talk to one another.

"the people whose group is demanding and burning must talk to their group, and leadership must also talk to the people."

Mantashe says an ANC delegation has been on the ground in Tshwane all night and will remain in touch with the community until the unrest has calm down.

RAMOKGOPA CALLS FOR CALM

Earlier, Tshwane Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa called for calm in the capital city.

Ramokgopa has urged people to refrain from resorting to violence.

"I don't think that there's any amount of grievance and displeasure that can merit the destruction of property. I want to distance myself from any action that any individual would seek to use my name."

Ramokgopa says he fully supports and endorses Didiza's mayoral candidacy.







Meanwhile, the ANC says the authorities must deal decisively with any person engaged in criminal activity.

At the same time, ANC provincial and national leadership will be meeting with branches from today, to iron out grievances over the issue.

ANC Tshwane spokesperson Tebogo Joala says, "We're taking this a step further to say we need to be in touch with our structures on the ground, at a zonal level, at the branch level, to interact with them and also explain the position that was arrived at."

The situation remains tense and one woman says she just saw a truck being set alight.

"They just overturned a truck which is in flames, and there are people actually walking around telling people to turn back home or else they are going to burn their cars. But they look pretty young, probably in their 20s."

WATCH: Fiery protests engulf Atteridgeville

COUNTING THE COSTS

Autopax acting CEO Bongani Kupe says it has suffered an estimated R28 million damage after 19 of its buses were set alight in Mamelodi during the violence last night.

Kupe says after their bus drivers had been assaulted, a decision was taken to suspend operations in Mamelodi for the time being.

"We're trying to rescue as much as we can so that no further damage can be incurred. We're working around the clock to see what we can do around this in order to rescue whatever is left."

He says, "We've suspended all operations until we're sure that it's safe to operate again."

It says violence and damage to property will not be tolerated, adding that those making their way to work this morning should be allowed to move freely.



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