A scuffle broke out at the council meeting at the Germiston Civic Centre, recently, when members of the EFF were escorted from the council chambers by the EMPD following the alleged instruction of the speaker of council, Clr Patricia Kumalo.
During the commotion, a GCN journalist, who had been invited to attend and report on the council meeting, was manhandled by an unknown man.
The unidentified man came from behind, grabbed the journalist by the shoulders and pushed her out of the building, stating she was not permitted to be on the premises.
Before this confrontation, Sipho Watkins, EFF regional secretary in Ekurhuleni, had told the GCN members of his party were assaulted under the instruction of the ANC even before they made it into the sitting.
He further claimed once inside, none of their concerns were acknowledged, including the issue of who was to address a crowd which had gathered in protest outside.
The crowd, made up of former contract workers of the metro, had gathered outside the building in protest, demanding permanent jobs while the council meeting was in session.
“We raised the issues of being beaten in the council chambers and questioned who was to address the crowd which had gathered outside, and the EMPD were called in immediately.
“A fight then ensued, with the EMPD officers sharing themselves among us,” said Watkins.
Once they had been escorted out of the building by the EMPD, EFF leaders took turns addressing the crowd.
Rubber bullets were allegedly fired by EMPD officers to disperse the crowd, however, witnesses claim they were directly shot at by the EMPD.
Injured protesters were treated by the metro’s emergency personnel.
Following this alleged attack, the EFF councillors, claiming to be in solidarity with the plight of the workers, announced they would once again go back into council to uncover the truth behind vacancies within the metro.
“The MMC for Environment and Waste Management Services, Clr Ndosi Shongwe, made a commitment saying there were about 1 050 job vacancies in the Department of Waste and the Department of Water, and they were going to absorb the workers because they were employed on a temporary basis, but that has not happened.
“The MMC further informed us a meeting between the city manager, head of Department for Human Resources Management and the mayor would be scheduled, where they would make sure they absorb these comrades into the workplace, permanently,” said Watkins.
EMPD officers continued to monitor the situation and refused to allow the protesting workers to go near the building as the EFF councillors made their way back into the sitting.
However, their excitement of marching back into the chambers was met with hostility as EMPD officers stationed inside the building refused to grant them access into the building, and soon the EFF councillors, who pushed back against the EMPD officers, were forcefully removed from the building.
During this scuffle, Mampuru Mampuru, chairperson of the EFF Ekurhuleni region, reacted badly to the inhalation of pepper spray, which was sprayed at the EFF members, and was taken away in an ambulance after his breathing was stabilised on the scene.
It was during this final altercation with the EMPD the GCN journalist was manhandled and forced to leave the premises.
The GCN requested comment from the metro regarding the council meeting.
The comment stated the EMPD had a mandate to maintain the safety of individuals and to respond accordingly to threatening and volatile situations.
“The crowd involved in Thursday’s march became unruly and ran the risk of damaging council property and harming officials and councillors who were attending council.
“EMPD officers took the necessary measures to disperse the crowd and restore order,” said Sphelele Nxele, spokesperson from the office of the speaker.
“The media are permitted in council, there were media representatives within the council chambers during the sitting.
“Additionally, the speaker acknowledged the media during her greeting in council so the house was aware of media attendance.
“It is unfortunate and concerning that a journalist was thrown out. The man described herein may not be aware of this and as such may have acted at his own discretion.”
The GCN also questioned the cause of the altercation between the EFF and the EMPD to which Nxele said, “I’d like to clarify, what occurred was not a fight.
“During the order of proceedings in council, there were numerous disruptions which threatened to dismantle the order of the sitting.
“As the presiding officer and chairperson of council, the speaker exercised her authority through the council standing orders, which permit security to enter the chamber and remove individuals causing disruption.
“This was done and the scuffle was as a result of resistance from those who were being removed.”
With regard to the EFF alleging the EMPD was acting upon the instruction of the ruling party (the ANC), the metro stated, “The allegation that the executive mayor was involved in this decision is sensationalist and has no basis, the security cluster was acting on the instruction of the speaker.
“Additionally, referring to council as the ‘ANC’ government is incorrect.
“Council is made up of different political organisations.”