Calls are growing louder in the Democratic Alliance (DA) for Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema to be arrested after they laid formal charges against the Commander in Chief for inciting violence, with the EFF charged for malicious damage to property and intimidation.
An EFF MP was arrested on Tuesday 8 September for assaulting a police officer, along with nine others relating to charges of destruction of property.
This follows two days of chaotic protests organised by the EFF, who want to ensure that Clicks stores around the country are shut down after becoming enraged by a racist advertisement campaign launched by the health and beauty retailer.
EFF MP among 10 arrested
Police Minister Bheki Cele confirmed the arrest of the MP, as well as others who had allegedly engaged in vandalism during the two day rampage.
"Ten people, including an EFF MP, have been arrested for charges relating to the destruction of property," he confirmed in a statement.
"The MP has been charged with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest."
He said that lawbreaking individuals would not be protected simply because they say they are protesting peacefully.
"Police should ensure the rule of law is maintained. They must deal decisively with those who choose to break the law," he said.
"I'm encouraged that officers are making arrests and urge them to continue to ensure the protection and safety of customers and staff members in the affected areas," he said.
DA call for Malema's arrest
Meanwhile, DA Shadow Minister of Police Andrew Whitfield has called for the spree of arrests to extend right to the top of the EFF.
"These arrests come after the DA laid criminal charges on Monday against Julius Malema and the EFF for incitement to violence, malicious damage to property and intimidation and provided South African Police Services (SAPS) with evidence of these offences," he said.
"While we are encouraged by these arrests and welcome Minister Cele's statement condemning acts of criminality, we call on the SAPS to ensure that all EFF members who have committed a crime, including Julius Malema, is also arrested."
He said that the reaction of the EFF was out of order, even considering the gravity of the pain caused by the Clicks advertisement.
"Although the DA supports every South African's right to protest, we cannot condone the blatant violence and destruction on the part of the EFF and their acolytes," he said.
'EFF must answer for jeopardising Clicks' employees'
He reiterated that Clicks employees will suffer the most as a result of the protest action, and said that the EFF must account for this.
"This destruction of property will potentially have serious consequences for thousands of Clicks employees whose livelihoods could be severely strained if these shops were to be closed permanently."
"The state must never surrender its responsibility and its authority to vigilantes who take the law into their own hands."