By MSINDISI FENGU and LULAMILE FENI
The grandson of the late former president Nelson Mandela was among five people shot by Eastern Cape police in several violent protests that have broken out since Friday near the statesman’s home in Qunu.
The protests have been over the appointment of an ANC ward councillor for the area.
Four of those hit by rubber bullets in clashes with police yesterday were rushed to hospital. The extent of their injuries were not immediately clear at the time of going to print.
Ndaba Mandela, who was hit three times by rubber bullets on Monday, told the Daily Dispatch he suffered minor bruises to his thighs.
“I was just standing next to the road after enquiring from protesters what was happening. I was busy taking pictures when police fired rubber bullets.”
Ndaba said he had been on his way to Mthatha when he came across the protesters not far from his famous grandfather’s Qunu home along the N2.
He said the protesters were unhappy that provincial ANC leaders had not showed up to address their grievances.
“All these people want is to be addressed by the ANC leadership.
“It could take less than an hour to do that and diffuse the situation. The Qunu community is saying the ANC imposed a ward councillor who is not in good standing.”
The protest started on Friday when an angry mob clashed with police in what was believed to be the first post-election protest in the Eastern Cape.
Police were yesterday forced to use rubber bullets to disperse the crowd, which had blocked the busy N2 between Mthatha and Qunu in the morning.
A team made up of ANC MP Mandla Mandela, whose constituency is Qunu; AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo’s wife, Noluntu Dalindyebo; Chief Mfundo Mtirara; and his younger brother, Mfundiso Mtirara, rushed to the scene to try and intervene.
By late yesterday, the protesters had called off their action.
Mandla said he hoped the matter would be resolved amicably by the ANC.
He said it was an internal ANC branch issue and the party needed to sit down and look at the processes followed leading to the election of the ward candidate.
On Ndaba’s shooting, Mandla said: “As his older brother, I would like to understand his involvement.
“However, we will first get information before I can make any comment about Ndaba’s involvement.”
One of the youths leading the march, Phikolomzi Habe, said the ANC regional leadership had not responded to their calls to remove a councillor candidate who had been imposed on the community by the governing party.
He accused police of using live ammunition on protesters yesterday, a claim denied by the police.
“They shot us while we were not even protesting. We were just sitting on the road.
“Police continue shooting people walking around in Qunu. We have evidence,” Habe said.
Protesters want the ANC to remove the party’s ward 19 candidate Unathi Daniso, who Habe claimed was imposed on ward members.
He said the contest during the nomination process for ward candidates had been between Mntunzima Thwala and Bantu Habe.
They were surprised when Daniso later emerged as the candidate, saying he had not been part of the process.
Habe said the ANC leadership had not arrived to address them.
Former Daily Dispatch investigations editor Eddie Botha was among many motorists who had to drive through the debris left behind by protesters.
Botha said police indicated to him that the protesters had grabbed the keys from two truck drivers who attempted to pass through the area.
Although Botha did not say the situation was chaotic, he said it was clear from the debris next to the road that the protest had been going on for some time.
Mthatha police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Mzukisi Fatyela confirmed that four people were rushed to hospital after they were hit by rubber bullets.
Fatyela said police managed to clear the N2 by midday yesterday.
He said police had not used live ammunition.
“I can tell you that nothing like that happened there,” Fatyela said.
He said police were looking for the suspects who had snatched the keys from the two drivers.
ANC provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane said he was shocked to learn about the incident and the provincial office was not aware of the grievances of the youth.
“I don’t know what they are protesting about. If these people wanted the ANC to genuinely address their issues, they should have wanted the ANC in a meeting and not to draw the attention of the ANC by closing the road and protesting.
“In the provincial office, there is nothing on my desk as a query or complaint. I will encourage them not to resort to that without exhausting all the proper channels.
“The ANC has not been arrogant to any South African and has always been available to address governmental matters or organisational matters.”
He said he would consult with the regional leadership to discuss the matter. — firstname.lastname@example.org
— Ndaba Mandela (@NdabaMandela) August 8, 2016