Pretoria – Three Tshwane metro police officers had to run for their lives on Monday afternoon after a group of disgruntled African National Congress (ANC) members attacked their marked service vehicle in Pretoria.
“They were busy on their normal patrols, unaware that they were driving towards the protesters. They were confronted by the protesters and stones were thrown at them,” Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) spokesman Isaac Mahamba told African News Agency.
“All the three were injured. They managed to run away from the protesters and call for backup. The protesters fled.”
The TMPD vehicle the officers were travelling in was overturned on the busy intersection of Francis Baard and Beckett Streets in Arcadia, east of Pretoria.
A TMPD tow truck later arrived and towed the damaged vehicle. According to bystanders, a cellphone was snatched from a motorist who was attempting to take photographs of the rowdy group, and destroyed.
Violent protests erupted in Pretoria, South Africa’s capital city, on Sunday following the ANC’s announcement that parliamentary House chair Thoko Didiza would be the party’s mayoral candidate for Tshwane.
The Tshwane Metro Police Department on Monday appealed for calm.
“We condemn such incidents. We are saying it’s unnecessary. It shouldn’t happen. We are appealing for calm in the City of Tshwane,” TMPD spokesman Isaac Mahamba told African News Agency.
“As the police, we are going to investigate what happened here before we comment further. At this stage, cases of malicious damage to property and public violence will be opened at the nearest police station.”
Mahamba however could not be drawn into discussing the political party which the crowd belonged to. “We don’t want to confirm whether it is ANC or whatever political party. We are saying this happened and we are going to investigate further. We will find out who are the culprits,” he said.
Earlier on Monday, Gauteng ANC chairman Paul Mashatile called on branches in Tshwane to support Didiza and ensure victory at the August 3 local government polls.
“We call upon all our members to accept the decision and support comrade Thoko Didiza as the mayoral candidate. Comrade Kgosientso Ramokgopa will continue until end of term. He is also regional chairperson in Tshwane. He will be working together with comrade Didiza,” Mashatile said after the confirmation of Didiza’s candidacy at a press conference which was also attended by outgoing Tshwane Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa.
He said the naming of Didiza signified the closing of nominations of mayors in the province. “We have closed nominations and call on our members to focus on winning Tshwane. We send condolences to the family of the member who was shot and killed yesterday. The ANC condemns any form of violence, we call for calm…we campaign in that area all the time without resorting to violence.”
Clashes between ANC factions claimed the life of a party member outside the Tshwane events centre on Sunday, with ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte confirming that several other ANC members had been injured in the violence.
Ramokgopa said members were “unanimously enthusiastic” about the Didiza candidacy.
“We are confident about comrade Thoko Didiza. Ultimately, we want to serve the interests of Tshwane. It’s all hands on deck. We are focused on the campaign to ensure winning the capital city,” he said.
Ramokgopa said he would continue to serve the ANC in the region.
The ANC in Tshwane is reportedly divided between Ramokgopa and his regional deputy chairperson Mapiti Matsena.
Matsena, who was also at the briefing on Monday, sat quietly and listened as Duarte addressed the media.
He was earlier seen smiling and chatting to Ramokgopa as they waited for the briefing to get underway.
Matsena reportedly topped the list for the mayoral candidacy.
Ramokgopa was elected mayor by the provincial executive committee in 2011 to replace his aunt Gwen Ramokgopa, who was then appointed deputy minister of health.