AFTER the violent clash between the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Cosatu in Braamfontein on Tuesday, the DA has laid an official charge of intimidation, inciting violence, and holding an illegal gathering against Cosatu at the Hillbrow police station.
Both sides have accused each other of starting the violence by throwing rocks and stones after meeting on Jorissen Street. Several protesters and journalists were injured, including a Wits student, Dikeledi Selowa.
The march to Cosatu House was to hand over a memorandum in support of youth wage subsidies, a proposal, that according to the DA would create 420 000 jobs for youths.
Cosatu had warned the DA against marching for the subsidy, as they directly oppose it and likened it to labour brokering which will encourage exploitation of workers.
Since the clash, a hailstorm of ‘he-said she-said’ comments flared across various media platforms.
DA leader Helen Zille took to Twitter to vehemently deny that DA supporters were involved in the violence, saying, “I was standing on a truck with a good 360 deg. view. I saw two rolled newspaper pages thrown by DA but no rocks or stones.”
DA leadership urged their supporters not retaliate to the Cosatu aggression, and started a chant of “We are peaceful”.
However, Star journalist Ihsaan Haffejee was quick to point out that he had taken photographs of marchers in DA shirts throwing rocks and other projectiles. Vuvuzela has similar photographs.
Patrick Craven, spokesperson for Cosatu said in a statement “COSATU, as it always does, condemns these acts of violence unreservedly, but stresses that the vast majority of its members conducted themselves with exemplary discipline and restraint, despite the provocative nature of the demands being made by the DA.”
DA Gauteng leader John Moodey accused the metro police at the march of bias. Supporters continually called out to the police to arrest Cosatu supporters who were “openly throwing rocks” in their direction.
One Cosatu supporter in an ANC Youth League t-shirt brandished a stun-gun and managed to stun some DA supporters. No attempt was made by the police to restrain or arrest him.
The police have come under further criticism, because of their initially weak presence and their inability to control the violence on both sides.
Published online on Wits Vuvuzela May 15 2012, the day of the protest