Gunmen open fire at ANC gathering

Gunmen open fire at ANC gathering


Pretoria – Violence broke out at the Tshwane Events Centre on Sunday where ANC leaders were to announce the nomination of Thoko Didiza as mayoral candidate for the capital to party supporters.

It is believed that four men in a VW Polo without licence plates arrived and parked outside the gate on the busy WF Nkomo Street.

Two of them jumped out from the back of the car and casually walked to a group of ANC members standing near the gate. They opened fire without uttering a word. Unconfirmed reports on Sunday night were that one person was shot dead.

Witnesses said the gun of one of them jammed while he was trying to shoot.

The gunmen, one of whom was wearing an ANC-branded shirt, were seen running into nearby flats.

Two other ANC members were stabbed with pangas and some thumped with golf sticks during the commotion that ensued. The injured were reportedly rushed to Steve Biko Academic Hospital.

It was unclear what the root of the violence was, but angry crowds outside the venue were heard shouting that Mapiti (ANC regional deputy chair Mapiti Matsena), would get what was coming for him, if he wanted war.

Another supporter was holding a placard written #MapitiMustFall and #SputlaMustRise, a reference to mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa. There was a strong police presence and traffic on WF Nkomo Street was disrupted.

A gate and fence of a nearby block of flats were uprooted and damaged by furious ANC members who were baying for the blood of the gunmen believed to have sought refuge there.

The angry crowd wearing ANC-branded items threatened and hurled insults at journalists, and threatened to confiscate their equipment.

“We want no journalists,” one said to Simone Heradien, deputy chairperson of the National Press Club and Rekord content manager.

“We’ll take your camera and break it,” he added.

Police also prevented journalists from accessing the area and taking pictures. This action was condemned by the National Press Club (NPC) on Sunday night.

In a statement, Tanya de Vente-Bijker, chairwoman of the NPC, said the club condemned the interfering with media in the workplace.

“We are concerned about reports coming from the Tshwane Events Centre that journalists are being threatened by police.

“The journalists are trying to report on the alleged shooting at the ANC conference to announce its mayoral candidate. Journalists should be allowed to report without fear. Standing Order 156 of the police states journalists are allowed to photograph police officers and anything at a crime scene as long as it is outside the crime scene tape.”

SAPS members surrounding a block of flats where it is alleged a suspected gunman entered after allegedly shooting at ANC members gathered to be informed officially about the city’s mayoral candidate.