WATCH: Ngizwe Mchunu’s release on bail greeted with sounds of vuvuzelas, cheers of joy
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Johannesburg - Ngizwe Mchunu’s release on bail was greeted with sounds of vuvuzelas and cheers of joy from his supporters outside the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday afternoon.
The former Ukhozi FM DJ has been accused of inciting violence linked to the recent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. He also faced charges of breaching the National Disaster Management Act.
Mchunu was arrested earlier this month after he handed himself in at a Durban police station.
Magistrate Gayle Pretorius said the video evidence provided by the State, favoured the applicant, and none of the footage showed proof of Mchunu inciting violence.
“The video evidence shows a lot of ranting from the applicant, but nowhere does he tell people to loot or burn. The applicant is very passionate about freeing former president Jacob Zuma, but it does not mean that I can conclude from that,” said Pretorius.
The magistrate emphasised that she did not know what the strength of the case was and that Mchunu was an “extremely proud Zulu man” who respected his culture.
“South Africa may not be an easy country to live in because we are so diverse, but we must keep trying. If we abide by the law, we will have peace and not anarchy. The violence we saw is due to the incarceration of Mr Zuma and although he’s been seen as a father to some, he’s a citizen subject to the laws of this country,” said Pretorius.
Mchunu has been released on R2 000 bail.
As part of his bail conditions, the magistrate Mchunu “may not address any gatherings, in person or on his social media pages, post propaganda for war or inciting imminent violence or advocacy of hatred based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion”.
Reading from an affidavit, Mchunu’s advocate, Kwenzokuhle Madlala, said the accused would not leave his three wives and 12 children to flee the country.
Phindi Louw-Mjonondwane, the National Prosecutor Authority spokesperson, said that the State believed it had enough evidence to hold Mchunu accountable.
“Evidence for Mchunu’s charge for inciting violence will be revealed during the trial stage, which is expected to resume on October 21 at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court,” Mjonondwane said.
WITH schools across South Africa returning for the start of the third term this week, classrooms in Phoenix, just north of the Durban central business district, have been rather empty due to fears of a resurgence of the unrest that gripped the area almost two weeks ago.
According to school principals, parents are worried about their children’s safety and did not want them to go back to school. But the situation on the ground is not as dire as it appears, say the principals, who asked not to be named to protect their safety and that of their schools.
Socio-economic factors also play a role in the number of empty seats in classrooms around Phoenix, as learners are financially unable to make their way back to KwaZulu-Natal from their home provinces, such as the Eastern Cape.
“We have employed a few more security guards just as a precautionary measure due to the unrest, but everything seems to be normal. Our classes have been 20% to 30% full since school resumed, but it will pick up slowly as learners make their way back to school,” the principal of a secondary school in Phoenix said.
The principal of another high school in Phoenix said that he was angry about the portrayal of the situation in the media, adding that the black and Indian communities had lived in harmony for a long time. He said he couldn’t understand how the situation had gone bad so quickly.
Another principal said their school was unable to hire extra security because their funds had to be used to help mitigate the spread of the Covid19 virus.
Racial tensions in the area were ignited after the week-long unrest which resulted in mass looting and burning of businesses and infrastructure across KZN and parts of Gauteng.
Rioters allegedly protested against the jailing of Jacob Zuma for contempt of court.
Protesters later said their reason for looting was the long history of unfulfilled promises by the government that has left them in poverty, a state that has only worsened since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Some of the protesters admitted that they were looting for the sheer fun of it, while others wanted to stock up on luxury items or use the time to promote their rap albums on national TV.
Protesters then made their way into residential areas around KZN, trying to infiltrate local shopping complexes, but were met by residents trying to protect their homes and businesses due to a scarce police and military presence on the ground.
A clash between the protesters and residents, many of whom came from the Phoenix, Verulam and Tongaat areas, resulted in deaths and injuries in both the black and Indian communities, according to police and security cluster reports.
Eight people from Phoenix have been arrested in connection with the murders and violence in the area. All of them have appeared in court.
Twelve people had been identified as the main instigators behind the unrest, with five in police custody, Police Minister Bheki Cele said.
Among the five is former Ukhozi FM DJ Ngizwe Mchunu, who handed himself over to police in KZN last week. Mchunu appeared in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court for contravention of the Riotous Assemblies Act. He is out on bail
Last week, his lawyer, Styx Mdladla, said that he was “baffled” by the arrest warrant that was presented to his client.