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Malema on a World Stage

2011-08-31 11:09:00

South Africa made international headlines yesterday as news of the violent protest outside Luthuli House, where ANCYL leader Julius Malema is currently engaged in a disciplinary hearing, spread like wildfire.

Julius Malema stands accused of “sowing divisions” in the party (ANC) and bringing it into disrepute by calling for Botswana’s government to be overthrown, and was ordered to attend a hearing at Luthuli House, the ANC’s headquarters in Johannesburg.

Malema was last year put on probation when he was found guilty of criticising SA President Jacob Zuma, and may be expelled from the ANC if current evidence points to his guilt.

He is also currently being investigated for charges of fraud and corruption.

Thousands of Malema’s supporters gathered outside the building in protest of the hearing brandishing signs with the words “Hands off our leaders”, burning rubbish and chanting for most of the day.

Some supporters were seen to set alight T-shirts with the president’s face on before throwing them on barbed wire the police had set up to control the crowd.

Scenes turned ugly at points during the day and violence broke out between supporters and police, the former of which used stones and rocks to pelt at authorities and the latter which was forced to employ tear gas and stun grenades to dispel the mob.

At least one policeman and several media personnel were injured in the scuffles, by thrown rocks and debris.

Shocked South Africans took to Twitter to express their feelings on the unruly support for the Youth League President, and before long the hashtag #Malema had become a global trend.

“If #Malema was concerned about the manner his supporters are behaving, he would call for calm. This riot is obviously ANCYL sanctioned,” one user said on the microblogging site.

“Surely it’s tantamount to treason the burning of pictures of the President? #malema,” said another.

The ANCYL later released a statement condemning the undisciplined support shown outside the ANC’s headquarters.

“The ANCYL strongly condemns and dissociates itself from the burning of ANC T-shirts with the face of President Zuma,” it said.

Many international news agencies also picked up on the story, including the New York Times, the Guardian and BBC.

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