There were several security breaches at the Metro Centre on Thursday after a mob smashed its way into the City of Joburg’s council chamber during the monthly meeting.

Chaos erupted when the mob made its way through into the chamber.

City speaker Vasco da Gama said a march for 300 Jozi@Work workers had been approved earlier this week but more than 800 turned up. The protesters had permission to start at the legislature and were supposed to have stopped outside the Metro Centre.

While the council meeting was in progress, ANC members, who were unusually sporting yellow T-shirts similar to those of the protesters, stopped the meeting and requested the mayor go outside and accept a memorandum, which he refused to do.

“Mayor Herman Mashaba refused to go, saying that arrangements for that had not been made. The ANC left the chamber to meet the protesters.

“We are told there were 800 people who pushed their way in by breaking the doors down and overpowering the security. They entered the chamber and started smashing desks, laptops and the council agendas. They were endangering lives,” he said.

Mayor Mashaba said there would be urgent investigations into both the security breach and the conduct of the Joburg metro police department, which was aware of the march but failed to contain it.

“There are going to be consequences. We have CCTV footage both inside and outside the building. Those responsible must be held accountable and I will be laying criminal charges at Joburg Central police station tomorrow morning,” he said.

Mashaba said the ANC had “staged an orchestrated attack on our democracy under the auspices of their front organisation, the Johannesburg Social Movement (JSM). This was a blatant attempt to prevent the council from passing the adjustment budget and bringing change to the residents of Joburg. We will not be deterred.”

He said JSM frontman Tshepang Mokgatla was the ANC’s candidate in the local elections in ward 125 and had lost it to the DA.

He said that what was notable was that, for the first time, many ANC councillors arrived for the monthly meeting in yellow jackets similar to those worn by the protesters.

“I have a message for the ANC: you will not intimidate us, you will not stop us from fulfilling the mandate for change that the residents of our city have given us,” Mashaba said.

The meeting proceeded without incident and the adjusted budget was approved by all parties.

 

The march follows a recent restructure by Mashaba of Jozi@Work, where he intended eliminating middle agents in the project to create more jobs.