Politics

Rival protesters scuffle over anti-Zuma banner at state capture probe

Rival protesters scuffle over anti-Zuma banner at state capture probe

A Johannesburg businessman who erected a banner on the fringes of the Zondo commission into state capture which read “Zuma must go" had to be escorted to safety by police after he was mobbed by supporters of the former president.  

A subheading read: "Corruption is a cancer that can be cured." 

Patrick Bellingan, 52, was swamped by a small crowd of pro-Zuma loyalists who ripped down his banner and “stole” it, he claimed.

The police intervened in the scrum and ushered Bellingan to safety.  

“I spoke to the police on Wednesday and they said I was free to air my opinions. It was here for all to see for three hours. The thugs arrived in buses and they unceremoniously ripped it down and stole it,” he said.

The banner, which was stolen by persons he described as “thieves”, was replaced by one extolling radical economic transformation.

Zuma on Friday withdrew from the commission, headed by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, claiming that he was badgered by evidence leaders during questioning.

“I, like many others, am passionate about South Africa and I put up a banner that said corruption is like a cancer,” Bellingan said.

“Under him [Zuma] as head of state, billions were stolen and he needs to carry the can for that… he needs to go to jail,” he said.  

In the wake of the fracas, a police officer approached Bellingan and said: “You are allowed freedom of expression, but we are trying to avoid a confrontation here.”