Home South African MK Party official in hot water over ‘inciting violence’

MK Party official in hot water over ‘inciting violence’

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Controversial politician Visvin Reddy has been charged with incitement to commit public violence following his speech at a uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party rally in Shallcross last month, where he warned that the country “will be turned into civil war the day MK is not allowed to campaign and to be on the ballot paper”.

Visvin Reddy (right) with former president and MK Party backer Jacob Zuma. Picture: Visvin Reddy

By Yoshini Perumal

DURBAN – Controversial politician Visvin Reddy has been charged with incitement to commit public violence following his speech at a uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party rally in Shallcross last month, where he warned that “this country will be turned into civil war the day MK is not allowed to campaign and to be on the ballot paper”.

Reddy, 53, allegedly evaded arrest for days before he eventually handed himself over to the Hawks last week. He was charged and released on warning to appear in the Chatsworth Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday for “contravention of the Riotous Assemblies Act 17 of 1956”.

According to the summons to appear in court, Reddy allegedly “wrongfully spoke or published such words that might be reasonably expected that the natural and probable consequence of his act would be the commission of public violence by members of the public”.

He told the POST on Monday that the charges had been explained to him by the investigating officer – a detective from the Hawks – who said it was “incitement of violence”.

A video clip of Reddy making these comments went viral on social media, prompting President Cyril Ramaphosa to say that anyone who threatened unrest ahead of the elections would be arrested.

In the video, Reddy said: “Hear me carefully. This country will be turned into civil war the day that the MK is not allowed to campaign and to be on the ballot paper … No one will vote. No one in this country will vote. We will make sure that no one in this country will vote if MK is not on the ballot paper.”

He said he had addressed the rally as the president of the African Democratic Change (ADeC) party.

Reddy, who has a political career spanning three decades, said his intention was not to incite violence.

“I am still disturbed and hurt by what happened in the July 2021 riots. One of the triggers of the riots was the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma. Many people are still reeling from riots. When the ANC decided to make an attempt to block the MK party from contesting the elections by bringing a court application, this was seen by Zuma supporters as an attempt to once again attack the former president,” he said.

He claimed at the time of the rally he was explaining and only “cautioned” that if MK was removed from the ballot paper, there would be repercussions.

“My message was not directed to the people in the crowd but to Cyril Ramaphosa, for him to ensure that people are safe and protected, as findings of the July unrest had confirmed that the State had not been prepared.

“Ramaphosa also had the power to withdraw the court application at the time, where the ANC asked the IEC to remove the MK Party from the ballot paper. This case was won by the MK Party in Bloemfontein two weeks ago.”

Reddy said he had posted an apology on social media to make the context of what he had said clear.

“This is the work of mischievous people, who made others believe that I was inciting violence. They created the impression that I was stirring up looting, riots and violence, by only publishing a part of what I said.

“I am not an instigator of violence. Other political leaders in the country have said far worse things than what I said, but nothing was done to them. I am certain that I will be cleared of all the charges once the facts are cleared in court,” he added.

Reddys attorney, Manoj Haripersad, said Reddy would be pleading not guilty to the charges.

“He was charged for contravention of the Riotous Assemblies Act 17 of 1956, but the summons for him to appear in court was very vague.”

Despite the MK Party distancing themselves from Reddy and the “threats” contained in the video, Reddy was appointed as the party’s deputy national elections co-ordinator, soon after the video went viral.

IEC spokesperson Thabani Ngwira said politicians charged with any offence could still canvas for or contest the elections.

“However, once a politician is convicted, they will not be allowed to.

“If the politician is convicted to more than 12 months direct imprisonment without the option of a fine, they will not be allowed to contest or canvas for elections,” he said.

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