A former Nelson Mandela Bay EFF deputy regional chair has been sentenced for defacing the Anglo-Boer War statue in Uitenhage three years ago.
Elijah “Bo” Madwara, 34, must either pay a R4,000 fine or face six months’ imprisonment – of which half was suspended for three years – for malicious damage to property.
He was also fined R2,000 (or four months’ imprisonment) for obstructing a police official.
Madwara was sentenced in the Uitenhage District Court on June 29.
Madwara said yesterday that he had since moved to East London and was now just an ordinary member of the EFF.
“I am tired of this and I am just paying the fine,” he said.
“I really don’t have the appetite even [to] appeal this.”
Madwara was accused of leading a group of people who vandalised the memorial statue on April 2 2015.
Weeks after the incident, Madwara was summonsed to appear in court, where he was charged, while the case went to trial with prosecutor Rodwill Bacon.
At the time, the incident was filmed on a cellphone camera showing the chaos unfolding at the statue.
During the trial, Nelson Mandela Bay tourism ambassador Melvin Constable said he had seen three men in EFF uniforms hanging two tyres – one on the neck and another around the stomach – on the statue on Uitenhage’s Market Square.
While the court heard that three people were involved in the defacement, Madwara was the only one charged.
A police constable also testified that the EFF members had tried to demolish the statue, with Madwara using a big hammer.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Tsepo Ndwalaza said this was the first conviction of its kind in Uitenhage for damaging a statue.
“It is believed that this was politically motivated, as the accused were EFF members,” he said.
The footage of tyres burning on the Anglo-Boer War statue shows four police officials, one wearing a captain’s rank insignia, feebly attempting to move the three protesters before giving up and watching as the drama unfolded.
One police officer tried several times to push two burning tyres off the statue while the three protesters attempted to block him by jumping in the way.
“Do not hurt the police,” one of the three shouted, as officers made a half-hearted attempt to push them to the side.
Several curious onlookers took videos with their cellphones as the three men argued with and shouted at the police officers for almost three minutes.
The three men repeatedly tried to prevent the police from removing the burning tyres from the statue.
They are also heard shouting: “Domkoppe polisie dié, domkoppe!” [idiot police these, idiots].
“But we are going to come back, my man.”
One protester shouted to the other two: “No, no, no. Don’t touch the police.”
One then jumped in front of an officer, waving his arms and saying: “I am protecting you from the fire.”
Another ran up to a police officer, shouting: “Where is our hammer?
“You stole our hammer.” At one point, a policewoman lifted a protester off the ground and carried him away, but then let him go and the man ran back to the statue.
Later a bystander tried to extinguish one fire by throwing a bucket of soapy water over it.
Within minutes, more police arrived on the scene and the three protesters left.