STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY: JAN BORNMAN, JAY CABOZ AND LISA GOLDEN
Published online on Wits Vuvuzela May 15 2012, the day of the protest
Protesters and journalists were tear-gassed by police after Democratic Alliance (DA) and Cosatu supporters clashed in Braamfontein today over proposed youth wage subsidies.
The march turned violent after blue-shirted members of the DA and red-shirted Cosatu supporters met on Jorissen Street. The Johannesburg Metro Police made a human chain to keep the two groups separated as they shouted insults at each other. This did not stop supporters from both sides throwing rocks, bottles, bricks and placards at each other across the police chain.
Fighting also broke out on Stiemens Street after police used tear gas to disperse the crowd. A 30-minute stand-off ensued while the DA leadership urged their supporters to maintain a non-violent stance, shouting “we want peace”, amid renditions of the national anthem.
Rocks and bricks were hurled from both sides injuring protestors and journalists alike, among them Nickolaus Bauer from the Mail and Guardian, who was photographed with a bloodied face. A number of injuries have been reported in the media.
DA national leader Helen Zille, parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, youth leader Makashule Gana and national spokesperson Mmusi Maimane led the march which was in support of the implementation of youth wage subsidies; a proposal rejected by Cosatu.
Mazibuko and Zille addressed the crowds calling for Cosatu to “join the DA” and saying “that they were stealing jobs from the youth.”
The two groups clashed repeatedly on several Braamfontein streets with the police, who appeared largely disorganised, responding with tear gas and water cannons.
Photographers in Action
Someone asked me yesterday after the clashes: “Were you really in there?”
I thought the best way to illustrate the closeness journalists go was to create this small section. I will post another link on my projects page later today.