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EFF members during their march in Pretoria. Picture: Thapelo Morebudi
EFF members during their march in Pretoria. Picture: Thapelo Morebudi

The EFF's protest on Monday ended in handshakes outside the Mahlamba Ndlopfu presidential residence in Pretoria as EFF leader Julius Malema and EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi thanked police officers who marched with them peacefully.

Later the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (Natjoints) expressed satisfaction that law enforcement had ensured law and order during the day. Natjoints said in a statement their enforcement measures enabled businesses and services to operate with minimum incidents of criminality reported throughout the country.

The EFF protest began early on Monday with the intention of disrupting the country through demonstrations against the electricity crisis and to call for President Cyril Ramaphosa to step down and the high level of unemployment to be addressed. 

The first drama reported was an alleged attack on the home of Soweto parliament leader  Nhlanhla “Lux” Dlamini who accused the EFF of being behind it. 

The attack reportedly happened in the early hours of Monday. Dlamini said at least two petrol bombs were thrown at his home, with one hitting the roof. The house was not damaged.

Early reports were that Putco had to halt bus operations after reports of intimidation. In Thembisa, commuters stayed away from the Oakmoor Taxi Rank, which appeared full of stationary minibus taxis with more drivers than passengers. Nearby shops remained closed and only a few vendors opened their stalls. Roads through the township bore black marks from burning tyres.

Soweto was relatively calm, with a few fires on roads that were extinguished. Some arrests were made in Braamfontein when students began protesting late on Sunday night but apart from this, no major incidents were reported in the Johannesburg area. 

As the day progressed there were isolated incidents, pockets of quiet, reports of rising tensions and a fair bit of waiting as protesters took to waiting for colleagues to join them before marching together. 

In KwaZulu-Natal, it was business as usual in the morning, with the N3 highway between Pietermaritzburg and Durban being clear and both cities unaffected. 

EFF protestor on the streets of Durban
EFF protestor on the streets of Durban
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Law enforcement agencies were activated in various districts, but public transport, including taxis, operated normally as the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) stuck to its undertaking not to take part in the EFF’s mass action. 

In Cape Town there were a few incidents overnight, but according to mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, apart from some traffic delays, no other major incidents were reported in the morning. He said there were security deployments across the city and things were running smoothly. 

The answer to whether the protest was a success differed from person to person depending on whether they were a participant, a bystander, a worker or someone who opted to put in for leave and enjoy a long weekend. 

On Johannesburg's West Rand, EFF communications officer Tiyiselani Chauke said their efforts were extremely successful. 

“Our members have shown their discipline. There has been no violence or damage to property. All businesses belonging to people who support us are closed, and we did not force others to close down,” he said. 

Being more specific, and talking actual numbers, protester Brighton Mudau, 35, commented: “We are fighting for our future, while others are too afraid to leave the house. Ramaphosa can see all his cities took notice of the fighters and shut down. We don’t need thousands in the streets — three fighters are enough.” 

As the day progressed, apart from minor disruptions in Cape Town, Thembisa, Pretoria and Soweto, most services continued to operate normally. 

By 11am dozens of EFF supporters were gathered at Church Square in Pretoria, planning to march to the Union Buildings. While there appeared to be little participation from any other parties, former ANC member Carl Niehaus made an appearance and offered his support. 

Niehaus was there representing his civil movement, the African Radical Economic Transformation Alliance (Areta), which he said intends to register as a political party. He described the strong law enforcement contingent as “reminiscent of the 1976 Soweto uprising”.

“What government is it that looks at its people as if they are the enemy?” he asked, claiming that soldiers and police officials had told them they were unhappy with their deployment as they shared the protesters’ sentiments.

Natjoints  said that by 10pm more than 550 protesters had been arrested for amongst others public violence, intimidation, damage to critical infrastructure, theft and attempted looting. The number of tyres that were confiscated throughout the country was  24 300. 

Shortly before noon, President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke, calling for hard-won freedoms to be protected ahead of Human Rights Day on Tuesday. He called for the equal rights of all people to be recognised and guaranteed. 

In the afternoon, Tshwane Bus services announced that buses were being recalled to depots and services suspended “due to the intense situation around the main operational areas in town as well as the very low ridership in the morning”.  

In Pretoria members of SAFTU, ATM, F4SD and the PAC joined a sea of red EFF members in the CBD. 

Western Cape premier Alan Winde commended law enforcement agencies, disaster management staff and emergency responders for working to ensure the nationwide protests did not descend into anarchy in the Western Cape.

Chester Missing and ventriloquist Conrad Koch made an appearance at the march in Cape Town.
Chester Missing and ventriloquist Conrad Koch made an appearance at the march in Cape Town.
Image: Philani Nombembe

But by late afternoon in Durban police were threatening to use a water canon to disperse EFF members wanting to march on Florida Road. Police blocked the area while EFF secretary-general Marshall Dlamini spoke out angrily against the police action. 

In Sandton, Joburg, the freedom fighters marched en masse through the area. Party leader Julius Malema implied that support would have been stronger and accused transport minister Sindisiwe Chikunga of sabotaging the party's plans to ferry protesters by bus to Pretoria. He told protesters on Monday that over R1m had been spent to hire buses to ferry EFF supporters to Tshwane, but bus contractors had withdrawn their services at the last minute. 

The view of the EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, as expressed on Twitter, was: “This is NOT business as usual: the #NationalShutdown gave you all electricity for much more sustainable hours than has happened in over a year. Everywhere you have police: today and last night will be the lowest crime days in history. Victory is certain.” 

The march came to an end when Malema addressed his supporters at the entrance of the presidential residence Mahlamba Ndlovu.

During this last gathering, some noted that load-shedding and unemployment were still stark realities, the president had not stepped down and the police were much more visible.

As EFF supporters cried victory, the much-repeated response was: “What has changed?”

LISTEN | Protest: Nhlanhla ‘Lux’ Dlamini ‘won’t take Julius Malema’s nonsense'


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