9 ANC rivals in hospital after trading blows
The build-up to the ANC provincial conference in Mpumalanga became chaotic when supporters of the chairmanship candidates exchanged blows.
The meeting to elect a new branch executive committee in Chrissiesmeer had to be abandoned when nine people were hospitalised after a fight.
The incident comes barely a week after Western Cape provincial secretary Mcebisi Skwatsha was stabbed at a meeting in Boland.
Mpumalanga ANC spokesman Paul Mbenyane said they were still waiting for a report from the region on the matter.
The fight in Chrissiesmeer was allegedly between supporters of deputy chairman David Mabuza and Mbombela municipality mayor Lassy Chiwayo, who are punted as favourites to succeed chairman Thabang Makwetla.
Makwetla has confirmed that he will not be contesting for the position.
Some members were hospitalised with head injuries after the incident and seven suspects have since been arrested.
Police spokesman Superintendent Abie Khoabane confirmed the arrests and said the suspects will appear in the Chrissiesmeer magistrates' court today.
Lucky Jacobs, a regional executive committee member, said yesterday the fight started when supporters of Chiwayo accused Vusi Shongwe, who is allegedly from the "Mabuza camp" and also provincial MPL, of causing disorder in the branch.
ANC leaders nationally have acknowledged that there is a need to convene a special national executive meeting to discuss the magnitude of violent conflicts on the ground at leadership battles ahead of next year's election.