Sibongiseni Bhengu and other residents turned out to back the support of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) for Zuma. The group of residents said they had gathered outside Zuma’s Nkandla home to “protect” the ex-head of state.
“We can even go to the bush. If someone wants us to fight, we will fight. If Zuma is being arrested, let them arrest us all. We are going to go with him,” he said.
Bhengu, a resident of the area for 40 years, said there was massive support for the former president.
“We want to show support for former president Zuma. We want to tell the country what is being done to our former president is out of order.
“We want to support what is being done by veterans, by MKMVA. We are behind them and fully support them. The decision taken by the former president [not to attend the Zondo commission], we are fully behind it because we know very well it’s not that he’s being treated like every other person. His rights are being taken away from him,” he told News24 outside Zuma’s Nkandla home on Monday.
Zuma was summoned to testify at the Zondo commission this week, but News24 reported that his lawyers, Mabuza Attorneys, wrote to the commission to state he would not be attending. They claim the summons issued for Zuma to appear before Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo was irregular.
Bhengu said he was aware of the legalities around the matter.
“What is being done to him is… unfair. We are going to go wherever he goes. He has stated clearly he does not think it is proper for Zondo to preside over this. If he can recuse himself, like Zuma asked, let it be, then Zuma will come.”
Also at the Nkandla homestead was the former head of state’s vocal son, Edward Zuma.
“We are not surprised by the presence of MKMVA and RET [Radical Economic Transformation] forces; they are here to show support to the former president, who has made it clear he is not going to be appearing before the Zondo commission despite a Constitutional Court judgement which we obviously dispute.”
He said it was prudent that other court matters around the one-time head of state’s refusal to attend the commission be resolved.
“The fact that we are still awaiting the applications that the former president has made in the North Gauteng High Court which needs to review the refusal of Deputy Chief Raymond Zondo to recuse himself from the commission based on whatever was submitted. Pending all those, we have to wait.”
He further said he doubted “that every Constitutional Court judge signed off on this”.
“It would leave much to be desired [if they all did]. However, we do not dispute the fact that our judiciary has been politicised and it has entered the political fray.”
He said Zuma would rather go to jail than see his rights infringed on. He further criticised Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, saying he had “disrespected the Zondo commission on numerous occasions and nothing has been done or said about it”.
“Everything [has] just gone quiet. But all of a sudden when it is Zuma, then a particular position or approach must be employed. Again, it leaves much to be desired.”
He questioned why Zuma was treated “differently”.
“Why do you want to treat Zuma differently than Pravin Gordhan, who was a serving minister in president Zuma’s Cabinet. What’s the difference? What barometer do you use to measure as to how you want to treat them? It leaves much to be desired.
“It concurs and agrees with our old position that clearly this conspiracy is not something that is new. It is something that is old and ongoing.”
He said as far as he knew, the MKMVA protesters at Nkandla were peaceful and added that he would defend his father against anyone who tried to arrest him.
“As far as I know, they are here in peace and here to show support for the former president. I, for one, as family, I can tell you, we are not going to allow them [to arrest him].”