Cope men seek police protection from ANC

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Former Umkhonto weSizwe member and now Cope secretary Phillip Mhlongo has warned of a "full-scale war" between his party's supporters and ANC members if leaders and the police failed to act.

His warning came yesterday when he and other Cope leaders were provided with an armed police escort to transport members back to the troubled Glebelands hostel from which they had fled at the weekend.

Cope supporters allege they came under attack from ANC supporters, had the keys to their hostel rooms taken and were then kicked out on Saturday.

Some were allegedly assaulted and beaten by knobkerrie-wielding attackers.

Police spokesperson Phindile Hadebe said they were asked by Cope lawyer Vuyani Donsa and the party's leadership to assist in taking Cope members back to the hostel.

She said arrests in the case were imminent.

"We are investigating three charges of public violence," Hadebe said.

Donsa said his clients - most of them "in hiding" - wanted to go back to the hostel to fetch clothes and other necessities.

"We negotiated with the police for an escort because my clients are afraid to return on their own.

"They have been assaulted and had their keys taken away," Donsa said.

Around 3pm yesterday about 15 Cope members - some of them women with their children - were met by police in three vehicles to be escorted to the hostel.

Mhlongo said a low scale war is brewing and that his members are being targeted at the hostel.

Local leader Vusi Zweni, who lives near the hostel, said he was providing shelter for some of those in hiding, including matric pupils.