While President Cyril Ramaphosa was in the process of delivering his budget speech at the National Assembly in Cape Town, a panga-wielding man was protesting naked at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
The unnamed man was filmed violently hacking at the feet of Nelson Mandela’s statue at the official seat of the South African government atop Meintjieskop on Government Avenue.
A passerby alerted the media to the incident, which police have not denied but refused to provide further details on the matter.
“A naked man holding a panga [was] vandalising the Nelson Mandela statue at Union Buildings. The guy seemed to be sound in mind. He [was] protesting for service delivery and against load shedding. He [said] that he wants the president to come and receive his complaints in person,” said the passerby, who also took a video and pictures. “Police managed the situation, negotiated with him to put on his clothes and disarm him. He is now in the care of SAPS at Union Buildings. I passed by there. Apparently, they are waiting to run some mental tests before he can be handed over to the police station.”
When contacted for comment on the matter, President Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said he was not aware of the incident.
“I’m not aware of such an incident. We are in Cape Town for the Presidency Budget Vote. Please check with SAPS who provide security to the Union Buildings,” said Magwenya.
Gauteng provincial police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Mavela Masondo confirmed that a naked man was apprehended at the Union Buildings, but said they could not confirm his utterances.
“The person was taken to the medical care centre for a medical examination. An inquiry will be opened at the nearest police station for investigation,” said Masondo.
Meanwhile, Ramaphosa received a lot of flack while presenting his budget speech in parliament.
Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen reiterated that South Africa was far better under former President Jacob Zuma’s leadership when compared to that of Ramaphosa’s “New Dawn” presidency.
He labelled Ramaphosa “The Conman who quit on South Africa.”
“I’d like to take this House back to 2019. Looking back from the winter of 2023, it can be difficult to recall what things were like back then. President Ramaphosa said during his inauguration speech, ‘A new era has dawned in our country.’ Soaring rhetoric, to be sure.
“But instead of inspiring hope as they once did, hearing these words today leaves one with an altogether different set of emotions. Despair. Betrayal. Anger. We now know that the New Dawn was a deceitful campaign designed to present Cyril Ramaphosa as the one thing he never was, and never could be: a leader. And, to be fair, it worked like a charm,” said Steenhuisen.
Steenhuisen said millions of South Africans put their faith in Ramaphosa.
“The respected international magazine, The Economist, even proclaimed that – and I quote – ‘To stop the rot in South Africa, back Cyril Ramaphosa.’ However, four years later, the President has broken every single one of the promises he made in his inaugural speech.
“In fact, he lately seems barely interested in the job. Like someone who quietly quit a long time ago. Let’s remind ourselves of what he promised versus what he actually did. He promised to end poverty. What he did has increased it dramatically,” Steenhuisen said.
“He promised a clean and accountable government. What he did was stuff dollars in his Phala Phala couch. He promised that no child will go hungry. What he did was to ban food distribution at schools during lockdown. What he did caused child hunger to skyrocket by 50 percent, with one in three children now going to bed hungry. What he did was plunge South Africa into stage six load shedding, because corrupt cadres have to eat while the people starve,” he added.
The official opposition’s Federal Leader said Ramaphosa spent “millions on fumigating cockroaches” in ministerial mansions while children died in pit latrines.
“He promised that everyone who wants to work, will have a reasonable chance to be employed. What he did has increased unemployment from 10 million people to 12 million people. He promised to tackle crime and gender-based violence. What he did has increased the number of people murdered per day from 57 to 76, and the number of women raped from 114 to 120 per day.
“After four years of deceit, it is now time for some hard truth. The truth is that life in South Africa today is far worse for everyone than it was even during the lowest point of the Zuma years. The truth, Mr President, is that you fooled the people of South Africa into believing that you could lead our country to better days,” said Steenhuisen.