Police continued to prepare for a big crowd-management exercise outside the ANC headquarters in Johannesburg on Monday night, even as crowds of supporters of Julius Malema failed to appear. At least they won't be caught with their pants down (or without their water cannons) if things change on Tuesday morning. BY PHILLIP DE WET.
By 8:15pm on Tuesday, the numbers were very much in the favour of law and order. A grand total of 43 protesters (with one vuvuzela, two ANC flags and a cute kid in party colours as force multipliers) gathered a block away from Luthuli House to show their support for Julius Malema.
On the other side of the street waited more than 60 SA Police Service and Joburg metro police officers, backed up by two water cannons and two sets of ready-to-deploy razor wire. Though no heavy weapons were in evidence, police manning the blockades keeping vehicles away from the ANC offices assured us that rubber bullets and tear gas were within easy reach.
By early night, it was not yet clear whether the demonstration would gain momentum during the night. Individuals continued to trickle into the square where Malema’s supporters were gathered faster than others left, but only barely.
The promise of a chilly night – and the need to show numbers in the morning, when disciplinary proceedings against ANC Youth League members are due to start – didn’t bode well for an all-night vigil, as had been expected.
Road closures in the area will continue throughout tomorrow. DM
"A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason." ~ Thomas Paine