Swellendam protests set to continue

ct SWELLENDAM 2475 RYAN JACOBS SAFE: ANC councillor John Nortje does not need a guard. Photo: Ryan Jacobs

Cobus Coetzee

Swellendam residents threatened to continue protesting outside municipal offices this week until the mayor, Nicholas Myburgh, and municipal manager, Nico Nel, were removed.

The town is still recovering from last week’s street protests that saw foreign-owned businesses burned and looted, the N2 and other major roads blocked with burning tyres, and shop windows stoned.

Yesterday during lunchtime about 50 residents protested in front of the municipal offices to demand Myburgh and Nel’s removal.

“We don’t care if it is the DA or the ANC. What matters to us is Nel and Myburgh must go – then we will stop making all this noise,” said community leader Rachel September in Voortrekker Street.

Violence erupted last week after the Western Cape High Court granted an interim order that gave back control of the council to the DA.

The court order followed three weeks of ANC rule after expelled ACDP councillor Julian Matthysen sided with the ANC instead of the DA.

Myburgh and his fellow DA councillors took only a few hours after the order to swear in a new ACDP councillor, Ryno Karelse, and appoint Nel as municipal manager.

The DA has four council seats, the ANC four and the ACDP one.

Local Government MEC Anton Bredell said the municipality had been in limbo for nearly 10 months because councillors could not agree.

He sent up a team yesterday to assess the situation.

National Co-operative Governance Minister Richard Baloyi visited the town on Saturday to mediate.

He asked the community for five days before he reports back to them.

“We can’t wait for five days. We want Nel and Myburgh out now,” said September.

Myburgh said he would not talk to people who looted buildings and burned tyres.

“Today it is Nel and me they want to remove, and yesterday it was service delivery. It changes every day. We are focusing on running the town,” said Myburgh.

The municipality hired security guards this week to protect some councillors and officials.

ANC councillor John Nortje said he had not been assigned a bodyguard, but did not need one.

“The town is peaceful now. We just have to listen to people’s problems and get on with it,” he said.

Swellendam Ratepayers Association chairwoman Itha Taljaard said the instability at the council and fighting between political parties had them so worried that they were considering fielding independent candidates in the next election.

“It will be better if we have our own independent councillors that can focus on delivery,” she said.

Meanwhile, police halted the expelled ACDP councillor’s brother in his car which had loudspeakers mounted on its roof.

“We told him not to drive around town and instigate residents,” said Alberts.

Jeffrey Matthysen, brother of expelled councillor Julian Matthysen, drove around Railton and told people to protest at the municipality because their water would be cut off.

“We agreed with police to no longer do so, but the issues are still there,” he said.

Albert said 26 people were arrested on Thursday for housebreaking and public violence, and another six people were arrested when police raided six houses and found stolen goods.

Two Somali shops and a liquor store were looted and burnt on Thursday in Railton.

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