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South Africa president urges end to political violence after arrests

South African President Jacob Zuma [BBC profile] on Monday stated that the governing African National Congress (ANC) [party website] will not condone political violence. The statement came as 30 of his supporters [eNCA report], three minors and 27 adults, were expected to appear in the Nkandla Magistrate Court for throwing stones at members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) [party website] near Zuma's private home on Saturday. After appearing, the arrested supporters were granted bail of R500 each and the minors were released to their guardians. The trial has been postponed until February 18, according to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) [official website]. The president has also stated [AP report] that the ANC does not approve of taking violent action against people who are exercising their democratic rights and that the governing body recommits to free political activity throughout the country.

This is not the only story pairing the ANC and controversy in recent years. In 2011 the group, which holds the majority in the South African National Assembly, was responsible for pushing through a controversial state secrets bill [JURIST report] designed to protect state secrets related to national security. Earlier that year, a South African Court found the ANC Youth League President Julius Malema, the current leader of the EFF, guilty [JURIST report] of hate speech for singing the apartheid-era protest song "Shoot the Boer." In 2010 the Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI) sent an open letter [JURIST report] to President Zuma expressing concerns over plans by the ANC to create a special court to punish press outlets that publish sensitive state information. In 2009 Zuma, serving as ANC leader, called on the Judicial Service Commission to conduct a review [JURIST report] of the country's Constitutional Court, saying the court had too much power and abused its authority. These claims came shortly after the NPA announced that it was dropping corruption charges [JURIST report] filed against Zuma in 2007.

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