EFF in hostel stand-off

Shopprice Australia

Political intolerance loomed large over Tembisa’s Sethokga hostel yesterday during a tense stand-off between the EFF and hostel residents.

Late last night, an EFF source said several of its members who lived at the hostel had been attacked and injured. No further details were available. Earlier yesterday, armed hostel dwellers prevented EFF supporters from completing their walkabout through the hostel, forcing police to fire rubber bullets to disperse them.

But the armed men immediately regrouped, with EFF leader Julius Malema’s bodyguards and members of the Ekurhuleni metro police having to separate the two groups. The EFF had gone to Sethokga hostel to see where two of the party’s members were attacked last month and later died in hospital. The impasse came as police warned that the situation at the hostel could become fatal.

On May 15 two EFF members, Tsietsi Mothibe and Kenny Matjamane, were attacked while campaigning at the hostel. They died weeks later in hospital. Colonel Give Ndhlalane, in charge of intelligence in the Tembisa cluster, said peace at Sethokga hostel was interrupted by a violent incident in April, allegedly at the hands of EFF supporters.

“All along Sethokga was peaceful but there was an incident in early April, when allegedly members said to belong to the EFF forced people to stay away from work,” said Ndhlalane, addressing EFF leaders, including Malema and party spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi. “That is when one person was shot because they insisted on going to work. There seems to have been retaliation [in the May attacks] as a result of the events in April.”

The head of Gauteng detective services, Major-General Vincent Leshabane, told Malema that his EFF colleagues should have applied for permission to march before converging at the police station to lay a charge of intimidation against the armed Sethokga hostel dwellers.

An incensed Malema said: “How can you expect us to apply for a march when we are being attacked? You are unreasonable. You tell us to apply [to march] when we are being killed. What kind of a cluster commander are you? You should be fired.” Police in Tembisa have now proposed mediation between the EFF and Sethokga hostel residents as the party vowed to return to the scene of yesterday’s confrontation to campaign ahead of the August 3 local government elections.