The Economic Freedom Fighters’ land-grab policy kicked off in Pretoria yesterday when local party leaders led an invasion of council-owned land earmarked for low-cost housing.
The executive committee of the party’s Nellmapius ward 86 delivered local people to “Malemaville” but the exercise ended in blood and broken bones when Tshwane metro police fired rubber bullets.
About 3000 people had queued in the rain to get their names on the EFF’s list of people to be given land along the N4 highway.
More than 100 portions were allocated on Sunday and about 1200 people were on the list by yesterday afternoon.
According to timeslive Willy Kubayi, 31, who queued for a piece of land, “paid a heavy price when his upper lip was torn after he was shot in the face at close range by the police as he ran for cover”.
The stampeding crowd trampled a woman in her forties and she broke a leg.
After the shooting people blockaded the road with tyres and rocks.
Tshwane metro police’s Isaac Mahamba could not confirm the number of people injured.
“We cannot allow people to occupy land illegally. We are monitoring the situation to make sure no land invasion occurs,” he said.
EFF branch chairman Vusi Msiza planned the takeover and named the land after party leader Julius Malema.
“People have nowhere to stay but there is plenty of empty land. We are implementing the EFF policy of expropriation of land and we will fight to stay on that land,” he said.
Msiza said he had told the party’s Tshwane regional chairman and Gauteng legislature chief whip Benjamin Disolwana about his branch’s “programme of action”.
An ANC member who travelled from Kwaggafontein, in Mpumalanga, to claim land, said she supported EFF policies.
“EFF policies are best for the poor and I like that they are not cowards – they stand up for what they believe in,” she said, asking not to be named.
Next year, says the local EFF branch, it will implement the party policy of free education – pupils will not pay school fees.
Steve Msiza said local EFF supporters wanted their branch of the party to be the first to implement the party’s policies and other branches should follow suit.
He said the EFF would use force if necessary to collect report cards from schools at the end of this year if they are being withheld for non-payment of school fees.
“We are the first to implement the expropriation of land without compensation, and free education; other branches will follow. These are the policies of the party. We do not need the national leadership to tell us to start implementing,” he said.
EFF land and education policies call for the transfer of land ownership to the state and free education up to undergraduate level.
Neither Malema nor EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi could be reached for comment.
Tshwane University of Technology political analyst Levy Ndou said yesterday that a party could implement policies only if it were in power and had consulted the citizenry.
“What they are doing is illegal and politically wrong. Only a party in government can implement policies. We need to educate our people that they can participate in policy making but cannot implement it,” he said.
Local ANC councillor Precious Marole said the EFF was taking people for “a ride”, creating drama to attract attention.
“The EFF is misbehaving. They will never occupy that land.
“They made people queue in the rain for nothing. I am going to call a community meeting to make that clear,” Marole said.
He said the land was sold to the council by a farmer and that about 60 families already lived there.
They had worked for the farmer and stayed on the land when he left.