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SUPPORTERS of South African Vice-President Cyril Ramaphosa beat women demanding “hands off” President Jacob Zuma today.
Several men in black T-shirts bearing the “#Siyavuma” (We agree) slogan of Mr Ramaphosa’s successful campaign for the ANC presidency last year attacked supporters of the Black Land First (BLF) march to the Albert Luthuli House ANC headquarters in Johannesburg.
Footage of the incident on the South African Times website showed men pulling terrified women from a pick-up truck, one man beating them with a stick and another kicking a woman as she lay in the road.
The paper said that the same group of men had earlier assaulted a BLF supporter in the street before police rescued the victim. The report added that a heavy police presence was needed to separate the Ramaphosa supporters from BLF.
In a statement before the march, ANC spokeswoman Khusela Diko said the ruling party “respects and will always uphold the right of all citizens to protest.”
The party later condemned the attack, especially “the assault of women in so callous and dehumanising manner.
“Regardless of what some may deem as provocation” by BLF, “there will never be any justification for scenes as the ones witnessed today,” Ms Diko said.
The march, the latest event in the pro-Zuma campaign, followed the latest speculation in white-owned anti-ANC media that Mr Ramaphosa and other members of the “top six” ANC officials elected in December had urged the president to step down at a private meeting yesterday.
No confirmation of that emerged today, suggesting the rumour was false, as with many earlier reports.
As ANC president, Mr Ramaphosa is the party’s candidate to succeed Mr Zuma in the general election at the end of his second term in May 2019.
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