Pubdate: Tue, 11 Sep 2007
Source: Pretoria News, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2007 The Pretoria News
Author: Aziz Hartley And Moshoeshoe Monare


ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe says the arrest  of DA leader
and Cape Town mayor Helen Zille is "very  unfortunate". She should be
treated with respect and  dignity to protect the image of South Africa.

Although the rule of law had to take its course, he  said, the status
of Zille's office should be  considered.

His comments in Johannesburg yesterday came amid scenes  of jubilation
outside the Mitchell's Plain magistrate's  court where Zille and
residents welcomed Amien Maker, a  Muslim cleric, as he emerged from

Said Motlanthe: "Without changing the principle that  all shall be equal
before the law and that ... the rule  of law should be applied without fear
or favour, we  think that a person holding such high public office  should
be treated with some decorum of respect.

"If there are questions she needs to answer and there  are certain
charges preferred against her, those should  be handled with the
dignity that her office called  for," he said.

He raised concerns about the political implication of  the incident
internationally. "We find it very  unfortunate. If these kinds of
developments ... are  read about (abroad), it would give a negative
picture  about the country," Motlanthe said.

Maker, the People's Anti-drug and Liquor Action  Committee (Padlac)
leader, was arrested on Sunday after  Zille had knocked on an alleged
drug dealer's door  during a protest march in Woodlands.

While he returns to court on October 26, Zille and  eight others
arrested with her on Sunday, will appear  in court today.They all face
illegal gathering charges.

Yesterday outside court a tearful Maker said: "It is  about how as a
concerned person the mayor stood up for  what is right.

"She has shown the courage to knock on a (drug)  merchant's door,
something ordinary people expect  police to be doing. I salute her."

Earlier during a placard demonstration outside court,  Zille vowed to
sue acting premier Leonard Ramatlakane  for claiming that she flirted
with vigilantism and had  broken the law by participating in an
illegal  demonstration.

"Ramatlakane should read the constitution. People have  right to
freedom of assembly, to peaceful protest and  to free speech. That is
what we were doing.

"There was nothing remotely violent about the march. If  MEC
Ramatlakane wants to smear me, he could find  himself seriously sued.

"I'd like to know which law I've broken. I think police  are breaking
laws by not arresting known drug dealers.  I need to ask him why.

"Yes, I will be taking legal action. I will help the  moulana (Maker)
and the imams to sue Ramatlakane for  defamation. How dare he say
these people are  vigilantes? They are the exact opposite," Zille said.

Lentegeur resident Bahia Abrahams said: "How can he  brand us as
vigilantes? We are ordinary parents trying  to protect our children
from falling to drugs. The  mayor is right to sue him. We'll stand by

ANC provincial secretary Mcebisi Skwatsha, joined the  fray yesterday,
saying "there is a fine line between  mobilising communities and
organisations to work with  police to combat crime, and

"This is more so in communities with a long history of  gangsterism,
substance abuse and crime. Politicians  have a special responsibility
to ensure in these  volatile situations, they stand on the correct
side of  that line. The law must take its course."

Meanwhile, two men accused of murdering Lentegeur  neighbourhood watch
member Abdurghman Sydow changed  their decision not to apply for bail.
Andre Williams  and Ivan Allie will apply for bail later.

In another case, seven men charged with arson and  public violence
will return to court on November 29.  They are accused of setting
alight a house during  violence that erupted days after Sydow's murder.
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