Posted at 01:26 PM ET, 08/30/2011

Jacob Zuma images burned to protest youth leader’s hearing

African National Congress Youth League supporters burn a party T-shirt with a portrait of South African President Jacob Zuma in downtown Johannesburg on Tuesday. (Associated Press)
Violent protests broke out Tuesday in Johannesburg ahead of a disciplinary hearing for firebrand youth leader Julius Malema.

Demonstrators burned flags of the ruling African National Congress party and ran through the streets holding burning T-shirts bearing South African President Jacob Zuma’s image, the Associated Press reported.

“Zuma must go!” the protesters chanted.

ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema addresses his supporters outside the party headquarters in central Johannesburg on Tuesday. (Siphwe Sibeko - Reuters)
When protesters began to throw bricks and bottles at police and reporters and climb on nearby armored cars, police detonated stun grenades, pulled out water cannons and fired rubber bullets into the crowd.

But most protesters, furious over a hearing for Malema and five other ANC Youth League officers charged with sowing division and bringing the party into disrepute, weren’t dissuaded.

Tuesday’s violence was just the latest indication of the power struggle that’s taking place leading up to the presidential election.

Malema is seen as a dangerous force by the government, having mobilized a wide swath of the country’s youth with speeches about unemployment and economic inequality in Africa’s richest nation.

When Malema emerged from his hearing, he was greeted by thousands of supporters.

While Malema told supporters to exercise restraint Tuesday, the youth leader has in the past been taken to task for encouraging the singing of a racist song calling for people to “kill the Boer,” or white farmer.

And while Malema was part of the team that helped get Zuma elected president, he has fallen out of favor with the party. In May, he was made to apologize for sowing discord and undermining Zuma’s authority.

During the protests, youth league members pulled no punches against Zuma, even singing, “Zuma, you are a rapist” — a reference to the rape trial Zuma faced in 2005 at which he was found not guilty. Watch the singing below:

By  |  01:26 PM ET, 08/30/2011

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