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Bus pelted with stones, Malema leads march to Union Buildings, with scores arrested in parts of SA

Bus pelted with stones, Malema leads march to Union Buildings, with scores arrested in parts of SA
Some of the leaders of the march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Among them are Duduzile Zuma (daughter of former president Jacob Zuma), EFF leader Julius Malema and axed ANC member and now Radical Economic Transformation Movement founder Carl Niehaus.(Photo: Felix Dlagamandla)

After days of anticipation and considerable hype and threats of coercion, the EFF’s protest – a planned shutdown of the country – unfolded on Monday morning. The protest, against rolling blackouts and President Cyril Ramaphosa, among other things, took place a day before Human Rights Day and effectively turned the weekend into a four-day break for many. By mid-morning, 87 people had been arrested and there were sporadic reports of violence and intimidation, with law enforcement officers highly visible in hotspots around the country. EFF leader Julius Malema led a march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, with the likes of Carl Niehaus and Duduzile Zuma turning up in support.

In the footage below, a bus belonging to a Limpopo government-owned company, Great North Transport, is pelted with stones, allegedly by a group of EFF supporters, at Blood River village outside Polokwane as it was ferrying passengers to town. See a second video further down.


Law enforcement officers had arrested 87 protesters around the country by 9am, for public violence-related offences, the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints) said on Monday morning.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Show of force ahead of Monday’s planned national shutdown

Of the 87 arrested, 41 were in Gauteng, 29 in North West and 15 in the Free State, NatJoints confirmed. Other arrests had been made in Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape.

EFF protesters in Pretoria on Monday morning. (Photo: Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu)

Police did not allow EFF members near the gates of the Presidential Guest House in Pretoria. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Additionally, 24,300 tyres had been confiscated by law enforcement. This comes after various community police forums and neighbourhood watches said they had noticed car tyres that had been dumped in certain areas before the planned shutdown, potentially to block roads.  

“6,000 [tyres] were seized in the Western Cape, 4,500 in the Free State, 3,600 in Gauteng, 1,513 in the Eastern Cape and a few in other provinces… These were tyres that were strategically placed for acts of criminality,” NatJoints said. 


A bus belonging to a Limpopo government-owned company, Great North Transport, was attacked, allegedly by a group of EFF supporters, at Blood River village outside Polokwane as it was ferrying passengers to town. The bus was pelted with stones, forcing it to a halt.  (See video clip above)

The Luthuli Park four-way stop near Seshego was blocked. (Photo: Rudzani Tshivhase)

Company spokesperson Patrick Monkoe said the driver suffered minor injuries and was taken to hospital for observation. “He will later on open a case at Seshego police station.”

At the time of publication a police report on the incident was pending.

In the Polokwane city centre, taxis, buses were operating normally, with shops having opened and those commuting to work doing so undisturbed,  a Daily Maverick reporter on the ground reported, adding that “it is business as usual”. A heavy police presence and taxi operators manning the streets to ensure law and order were the only things out of the ordinary. 

It was a slightly different sight in EFF leader Julius Malema’s hometown, Seshego, which is also one of the party’s strongholds as it currently has eight wards. At about 8am, a Daily Maverick reporter visited Luthuli Park, just 1km from Malema’s home. “A group of EFF supporters have barricaded the road at Luthuli Park, an extension of Seshego, with burning tyres, stones and other objects. 

“Police have just arrived, a police chopper is hovering, monitoring the situation. We can see the police cocking their guns, it seems they are ready to fire rubber bullets.”    

Watch this video clip on the ground in Polokwane at about 8am, by Rudzane Tshivhase


The flagship rally for the EFF took place in Pretoria, with a march  of about 3000 people to the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Malema led the the protest with, among others,  Duduzile Zuma, daughter of former president Jacob Zuma, and Carl Niehaus, who was axed by the ANC and has found a new home in the Radical Economic Transformation Movement.

The JSE opened for trade as usual at 9am and was slightly lower at mid-morning, but had turned positive in afternoon trade – as protesters gathered outside the exchange in Sandton. Company announcements on its SENS feed were being issued as on any other trading day – in other words, South Africa’s financial heart was not shut down.

Traffic flows into the Sandton CBD were quiet, which was probably a function of Monday being a school holiday and many people taking a long weekend because of the Tuesday Human Rights Day holiday. But businesses around Sandton such as petrol stations and grocery stores were operating.

Left: Former president Jacob Zuma’s daughter, Duduzile Zuma, shares a moment with EFF leader Julius Malema at the ‘shutdown’ march in Pretoria, on Monday, 20 March 2023. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

EFF members including Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (in front, wearing black) and SAPS members during the national protest in Pretoria on Monday. (Photo: Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu)

The Radical Economic Transformation Movement’s Carl Niehaus at the EFF’s national protest in Pretoria. (Photo: Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu)

EFF protesters in Pretoria on Monday morning. (Photo: Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu)

EFF protesters in Pretoria on Monday. (Photo: Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu)

A protester in Pretoria. (Photo: Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu)

A crowd of about 200 people marched from Alex to the JSE building in Sandton. 

According to its website, scheduled flights were arriving and departing at OR Tambo International Airport. A heavy police contingent remained on standby to guard the national keypoint in anticipation of the shutdown. 

In Johannesburg, various roads were clear of protest action with traffic proceeding on Monday morning. Some shops in the CBD remained closed while the high court moved cases to virtual platforms. In Sandton, most businesses were operating, but the streets were mostly quieter than during a normal day of work. On Marlboro Drive, about 15 EFF supporters were peacefully marching alongside two police vehicles. A Randburg resident remarked: “Nothing is shut down.”    

The situation in several parts of Soweto was also calm, with major roads operating optimally. However, a few incidents were reported to law enforcement officials in the early hours. 

Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations

Police Minister Bheki Cele was in Soweto assessing the damage to the house of Soweto Parliament leader Nhlanhla Lux, which had allegedly been bombed early in the morning. A few neighbouring houses were also damaged during the “bomb attack”.

Cele said no one was injured during the attack but a young girl required counselling. Lux was not at the home when the attack took place, having announced early on that he would be out and about to ensure there was no shutdown.

Nhlanhla Lux embraces a neighbour in Pimville, Soweto on 20 March 2023 after an attack on his home. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Bus operator Putco announced it had temporarily suspended some of its operations due to intimidation.   

“Buses were stoned and damaged in the Braamfischer area, passengers were forced to flee and the bus was abandoned. In Eldorado Park, staff buses couldn’t access the Vaal areas for picking up drivers [and] as a result buses from Nancefield depot couldn’t operate. A bus belonging to a patch subcontractor was stoned by protesters in the same area. In Soshanguve, a bus was hijacked, the female driver was pushed out of the bus and it was used to block a road in Dennilton, but police quickly recovered it and it was taken back to the local depot,” Putco said. 


Police and law enforcement as well as private security were out in force in the Durban CBD, prepared for any eventuality to avoid a repeat of the July 2021 unrest that turned violent. 

The city centre was quiet, but some food outlets were open, including along the route of the planned EFF march along West Street later on Monday. Daily Maverick reporters said about 200 supporters were present. Most of the foreign-owned shops were closed, with only a few risking doing business. Some people took the opportunity to go to the beach and have an extended long weekend.

An EFF member on the blocked Inanda highway in Kwamashu on Monday. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

EFF supporters march along Pixley Ka Seme Street in Durban amid tight police security. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

EFF members on the Inanda highway in Kwamashu. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)Scores of police officers, their counterparts from the Durban Metro Police and security guards – some wearing plainclothes but communicating on walkie-talkies – waited for the marchers at every intersection. Some officers and private security personnel were in armoured vehicles on the front, on the side and at the back of the EFF march.

Before leading the march from the EFF’s KZN provincial office in the Berea area, EFF secretary-general Marshal Dlamini told the marchers that they must not be intimidated by the strong presence of the police and security guards: “Today we are going to take control of Durban. We will also be going to Phoenix after the march to see how the situation pans out there.”

A rock blocking the Inanda highway in Kwamashu near Durban. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

A helicopter circles as smoke rises from Dube village in Kwamashu. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

Phoenix is the predominantly Indian township north of Durban which erupted into racial violence during the July 2021 unrest, resulting in the death of 33 Africans and three Indians.

In Chatsworth, south of Durban, there was protest action by EFF supporters on Sunday night, ahead of the planned shutdown, with reports of vehicles being stoned. However, the area was quiet Monday morning. Roads had been cleared and police officers were out in their numbers.

Read more in Daily Maverick:Concern and apprehension in KZN ahead of Monday’s ‘national shutdown’ attempt by the EFF

Western Cape

The Cape Town city centre was quiet on Monday morning, with not a red beret in sight. As Daily Maverick’s Rebecca Davis previously laid out here, because Tuesday, 21 March is a public holiday, many people have taken Monday off to have their first long weekend of the year. Monday is also a special school holiday, since Tuesday is Human Rights Day. 

Unathi Ntame, EFF Western Cape chairperson, talks to the media at the Borcherds Quarry intersection near Nyanga in Cape Town. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

At about 8.45am, Daily Maverick reporters in Cape Town noted a heavy police presence, particularly around the Keizersgracht area and Bree Street, but taxis and buses appeared to be running as normal. Delft, Nyanga and Cape Town International Airport were also quiet as of 9.45am. Daily Maverick reporters noted a heavy police presence at Borcherds Quarry. 

On Friday, the Western Cape High Court granted an urgent interdict ordering the EFF and its supporters not to disrupt, harm or threaten people and businesses as part of the planned shutdown. 

The application for an interdict was filed by the City of Cape Town and Western Cape premier Alan Winde last week, and applies to the province. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Red alert – DA, City of Cape Town seek interdicts against EFF’s shutdown amid ‘threats’ of violence

Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said that while the City “fully recognises” the right to democratic protest, this did not extend to threatening the rights and freedoms of others.

Speaking to Daily Maverick reporters at about 10am on Monday, EFF Western Cape chairperson, Unathi Ntame said marchers would head to Cape Town CBD at 11am. 

Eastern Cape

No major incidents were reported in the Eastern Cape by mid-morning. 

Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Retief Odendaal said protesters had managed to close two roads with burning tyres, but an attempt to close a major highway had been halted by the police. At 10am a protest started at the Boardwalk Mall. The police, neighbourhood watches and security firms were out in full force. Municipal services such as rubbish collection were uninterrupted.

A police officer uses a stun grenade against EFF supporters in the Mthatha CBD. (Photo: Hoseya Jubase)

EFF supporters on the march in Mthatha. (Photo: Hoseya Jubase)

Market jitters

The rand weakened on Monday in one sign of possible market jitters over the protests, even if they failed to achieve the EFF’s stated goal of a “national shutdown”.

“This constitutes a risk event for the country and could harm sentiment on South African markets if the outcome is bad,” ETM Analytics said in a commentary. Social unrest is a key risk factor for investors in South Africa, but it was hard to gauge the impact of any disruptions stemming from the protests on business on a day that was effectively treated as a public holiday by many South Africans.

There were no reports of disruptions directly linked to the protests at South Africa’s mines on Monday, union and industry sources said. Sibanye-Stillwater said there were some roads blocked at Mooinooi in North West near its platinum operations, but it said that was a weekly occurrence.

EFF supporters gather outside the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. (Photo: Ray Mahlaka)

The currency weakened to 18.49/dlr in afternoon trade on Monday, about 0.25% weaker compared with its closing levels Friday. But on Saturday – which is quite rare – data shows that it had fallen at one point to 18.97/dlr, close to its historic low over 19/dlr that was reached almost three years ago during the economic meltdown triggered by the initial hard lockdowns to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. But market reports on Monday compared the currency’s current levels with its Friday closing levels, which is standard and suggests Saturday’s moves may have been a “rogue” trade exacerbated by low liquidity.

The rand does not have much going for it at the moment as the power crisis slashes prospects for economic growth and amid expectations that the US Federal Reserve will hike again this week by at least 25 basis points to contain inflation, despite recent turmoil in financial markets triggered by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.

Protesting against rolling blackouts

The shutdown comes days after the appointment of an electricity minister, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, tasked with reducing the severity and frequency of rolling blackouts and the overall electricity crisis.  

On Sunday, Eskom announced that owing to an improvement in generation capacity, load shedding would remain suspended for the remainder of Sunday and resume at Stage 1 from 4pm, then raised to Stage 2 until Tuesday morning. 

But the EFF immediately claimed the return to full power as a victory, attributing it to its call for a national shutdown. “One of the major successes of the National Shutdown, before it even began, is that it has drastically decreased the stages of load shedding. It is because of the National Shutdown that South Africa has moved from Stage 4 to Stage 1 over the past four days, and was even suspended yesterday,” said EFF national spokesperson Sinawo Tambo. The economy has come to a standstill because they too are tired of Ramaphosa’s lies. He and the ANC said it is business as usual yet businesses are closed, meaning workers and the people of South Africa refused to listen to the lies.” DM

This is a developing story and has been updated numerous times.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Chris Lambson says:

    Unless the reduction in load-shedding during the past week or so is just a blip, I wonder if it’s a result of fewer acts of deliberate sabotage at Eskom power stations, now that Andre de Ruyter has gone? What else could bring about a step change in the EAF?

    • Johan Buys says:

      Chris: the load-shredding reduction has more to do with the millions that took a looooong weekend than the cadres breaking fewer units or the “national shutdown”. Malema was clever picking this Monday. I am sure he will claim all the credit.

      Maybe we can start a thing : if a big chunk of businesses don’t work two days a week, we have solved load-shredding. Wage bills will shrink 40% for the businesses that work 3 of 5.

    • Stephanie Brown says:

      eNCA reported that it was due to reduced demand because many factories closed for the long weekend.

  • jcdville stormers says:

    The 10 percent party seems to be shrinking.

  • Bosuns Pincher says:

    What a pethetic attempt at disruption by a gang that can claim to only represent a tiny percentage of South Africans. If antything, todays events simply demonstrate that the EFF has no real constiuency.

  • Confucious Says says:

    All I took out of this was that there are dresses with malema’s face on the bum! Wonder if he looked in the mirror whilst designing it?

  • Caroline Rich says:

    They take credit for the loadshedding reduction. This is hilarious! As for Carl Niehaus. I have no words for this one.

  • Thinker and Doer says:

    It is very interesting that the police and security services seem to be able to manage an apparently fairly effective operation to prevent violence when it relates to protests mandated by the EFF, but were completely unable to effectively address the violence that erupted in 2021, when it quite apparently involved factions in the ANC. Although perhaps an important contributor to the low turn out is that most people were largely uninterested in protesting when they are needing to be so focused on making ends meet in such difficult times, and were not about to give up a critical day’s employment when things are so tight.

    As Mr Lambson has pertinently noted, the reduction in load shedding is also very interesting. I wonder if this was orchestrated in response to the call for the national shut-down to reduce the response? Also, now that Mr De Ruyter has been successfully turfed out of Eskom, and perhaps the networks feel comfortable that they can return more or less to functioning without the meddling from Mr De Ruyter, things are now “miraculously” improving.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      Do not be confused ! CR’s new electricity ‘czar’ was visiting some power stations yesterday (co-incident?) with the specific intention to ‘placate’ the many saboteurs ‘within’ … so that the vandalism and corruption that has raged for quite some time can be ‘contained’ … but not eliminated or rooted out. After all … it would be result in the ANC’s most effective ‘feeding trough’ and monopoly from being an effective service provider for all South Africans. If we thought the exposure of the BOSASA corruption was big … you ain’t seen nothing yet compared to Eskom … in which the ruling ANC has a stake via Chancellor House . Viva state capture … aloota continua . To hell with Madonsela and Zondo ?

  • Hermann Funk says:

    A lot of noise about nothing. Political thug Malema, political prostitute Niehaus and spoilt brat Duduzile.

  • Johan Buys says:

    I saw a crowd of four people walking through our town wearing something red. One beret, two scarves and the fourth had red socks. They crossed in front of me but then had to wait for seven taxis that ignored them on the zebra crossing.

    The EFF is a non-entity other than in a few places. Calling for a national shutdown was a joke.

  • Bradley Welcome says:

    “A heavy police presence and taxi operators manning the streets to ensure law and order were the only things out of the ordinary.”
    At least some sort of alignment between authorities and ,believe it or not, taxi operators. A positive sign even if just a lone candle in the darkness.

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    A media disappointed by the lack of anarchy that latches on anything remotely anarchic. Malema was asked about this and condemned to the chagrin of those who hate the EFF that had a successful mass action since 1994 that was long overdue. Long overdue because of the arrogance and disdain the ruling elite takes the dufferi g of our people along with its media supporters. The police violence against women in Braamfontein has deliberately escaped the horde of these journalists. Also, the pick and pay general claim of having arrested 24 300 tyres from different countries has escaped these journalists and have failed to
    as him how these tyres landed in our country and where they were found. It also escaped these journalists the lies of the Western Cape Commissioner who in the same press conference 2 000 tyres changed to 5 000 within minutes whilst they were in the press conference.
    We thank the EFF for a successful and peaceful march and believe that this is the harbinger of things to come. Our youth were not intimidated by military and police thugs and did as we did in 1976 in front of the Apartheid security apparatus and the same as in in 80s. This will encourage more youth to take up the cudgels to confront those who have squandered the liberation premium through unmitigated corruption that has taken out country to the stone age through blackouts by Eskom, destruction of PRASA, Transnet and burial of the SAA and Mango and many SOEs and the failure to maintain our roads.

    • Graeme de Villiers says:

      And VBS? Did you deliberately or conveniently neglect to mention that little item of larceny? Please, just take the red blinkers off for long enough to admit the blatant fallacy in your esteemed leader, the Cucumber in Chief.

  • Wytze Voerman says:

    It seems to me that the EFF succeeded beyond belief even before the day had started, by intimidating all and sundry, from high to low, with the prospect of a national shutdown. All available resources were mobilized against them, providing major attention and recognition for their cause and their party, while mostly calmly sticking to making it a peaceful occasion, bar some relatively minor incidences from which they will easily disassociate themselves, as usual.
    However, they managed to strike fear far beyond the norm and as such manifest themselves entirely within the definition of terrorism. Doing so without being accosted is a major victory for them!

    • Stuart Woodhead says:

      THE EFF have sunk as low as they can go when JUJU has to hold hands with Niehaus and Dudu of all people.

      • Rory Macnamara says:

        AAW, holding hands was quite sweet. like kids have to do at nursery school when they cross the road! this mob are like a bunch of kids who need a good spanking!

  • Dimetrie Pournara says:

    The army deployed at an incredible cost and who pays? Law abiding citizens Maybe it is time for those who want to protest to pay for the costs of increased police , army and other security measures

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