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Zackie Achmat escapes attack a day before elections

Independent candidate and long-serving activist Zackie Achmat says that he and his team are fortunate to be unharmed after their car came under attack during violent protests in Philippi, Cape Town, on the eve of elections.

Achmat braved the chilly Cape Town morning weather to cast his vote at Jan van Riebeek Primary School on Wednesday morning. 

Speaking to journalists after casting his vote, Achmat said he was a little shell-shocked. 

"Because it's not easy to vote for oneself. But I think this election is very important to everyone in the country. It's important to those who want to make the country better. And it's important for those who are on the run from all the criminality in looting the state and so on," he said. 

Achmat implored the public to vote.

He said:

Our duty today is to go out. I want to encourage everyone to go out. Vote for a party that is not corrupt. Vote for a party that is accountable. Vote for a party that is non-racial. Doesn't encourage hate against immigrants. So let's get out there and do our job in the vote.

On Tuesday, on the eve of elections, young people, many wearing balaclavas or masks, blocked major roads with burning tyres and rocks in Cape Town.

GroundUp reported that there was an attempted hijacking of the car Achmat was in.

Achmat and members of his team were driving through Philippi to campaign when at least two men attempted to hijack their car. One of the men fired at the vehicle.

It hit the car, but Achmat and his team escaped.

Achmat said: "Two men decided that they wanted to hijack us. We were going out to the voting station. A team of my colleagues and I were going out.

And we managed to get away, but a bullet was lodged in their car. So... It's been a difficult time," he said.

He said it was fortunate no one got hurt.

"It's what happens in Philippi daily. Not daily; it's what happens in Philippi hourly. To people who live there. I can't complain. What I have to say is we have to build neighbourhood watches, and we have to ensure children are in preschool [and school] care."

Western Cape police commissioner Lieutenant General Thembisile Patekile said an attempted murder case was registered in connection with what happened to Achmat.

This article was first published on News24 on 29 May 2024, by Marvin Charles and Lisalee Solomons.


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