JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South African police on Monday monitored protests by the country’s leftist Economic Freedom Fighters party, which is demanding the resignation of President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The party urged all South Africans to participate in a national shutdown but there was limited response in most of the country’s major cities.
EFF leader Julius Malema addressed a crowd of nearly 1,000 people in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria, where he claimed the government tried to sabotage the planned national shutdown by preventing buses from transporting people to various marches.
Malema led a march by demonstrators through the streets of Pretoria, while other marches took place in other cities in South Africa.
There was a heavy police presence in Pretoria where police were deployed to monitor any potential violence and intimidation against people who are not participating in the protest.
At least 87 people were arrested for public violence and related offences by Monday, police said.
“At least 24,300 tires have been confiscated by law enforcement agencies. These were tires that were strategically placed for acts of criminality,” said police spokeswoman Athlenda Mathe.
Some protest marches were noted in various areas including Alexandra and Tembisa townships, east of Johannesburg.
Several roads leading to the center of Johannesburg’s eastern suburb of Kempton Park were closed as protesters marched to voice their grievances.
“All South Africans should be protesting with us right now because loadshedding (power cuts) is affecting all of us. The government must know that we are suffering, especially us who are running small businesses,” said Cedric Cele, who joined the EFF demonstration in Kempton Park.
The protest was meant to highlight South Africa’s power cuts which have seen households and businesses go without electricity for up to 12 hours daily.
Security forces were deployed to monitor the protests Monday, with government officials describing them as part of the EFF’s “regime change agenda.”
The EFF is South Africa’s third largest political party by representatives in the National Assembly.