Corrupt officials blamed for fatal protests

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IOL  Brits funeral 562.JPG THE STAR Hundreds of Economic Freedom Fighters supporters, left, turned up in Mothutlung near Brits in North West when protester Michael Tshele was buried on Saturday. Photo: Motshwari Mofokeng

North West -

North West Premier Thandi Modise has urged the national government to act speedily against corrupt officials in the Madibeng local municipality.

She said they were responsible for the fatal service delivery protests last week.

Modise was speaking to The Star on Sunday during the funeral service of two people shot dead during a demonstration to protest against a lack of water in the area.

Osiah Rahube and Lerato Seema were buried at Mothutlung cemetery yesterday.

The third victim, Michael Tshele, was laid to rest on Saturday.

Modise also came out in support of Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa and national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega instituting a thorough investigation into the deaths.

As the community prepared for the funerals on Sunday, members of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate were back in Mothutlung to gather evidence.

Expressing her unhappiness at the way the police handled the demonstrations, Modise said: “We do not only need an investigation. We want to know who gave them the command to shoot.

“There was no footage which showed these protesters carried guns, which could have led to the shootings.

“We just saw stones, and there were no guns.

“I’ve spoken to several residents in Mothutlung. They understood that there was a problem with water supply in the area. But their biggest complaint was that the company delivering water to them was fraudulently awarded the tender.”

Modise said this was “undoubtedly the source” of the service delivery protests.

“We (North West government) know that the tender was given fraudulently. A deal was entered into with alleged corrupt officials.”

The premier now wants Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Lechesa Tsenoli to enact section 154 and appoint administrators to investigate the corrupt officials.

“The minister must hurry up to enact section 154 before the municipality degenerates into (chaos).

“We need to get involved to help stabilise the Madibeng local municipality.

“These administrators must be provided with enough protection to enable them to do their work properly,” she said, adding that previous government-appointed investigators had been threatened and had fled.

The municipality’s spokeswoman, Lebogang Tsogang, said the council would “welcome intervention from both provincial and national government” that was meant to improve service delivery and promote co-operative governance.

“It should be noted that the municipality does not condone any acts of fraud and corruption, and thus would not award any tender unlawfully.”

Tsogang urged residents to come forward with “any information that would assist to eliminate fraud and corruption”.

Alternatively, they might also take such tip-offs to “the relevant law enforcement agencies”, Tsogang said.

Advocate Dali Mpofu, head of the Economic Freedom Fighters’ legal department, has threatened to take legal action against the municipality and the police.

He told mourners his party would help the bereaved families to sue the government.

He was also sceptical about the outcomes of any investigation proposed by the government.

In an indirect reference to President Jacob Zuma, Mpofu said: “How can you expect corruption to end when people in top government positions spent more than R206 million to build their mansions?

“The only solution to get rid of corruption is to vote the murderous regime out.”

Thousands paid their last respects to the victims, but the two funerals turned out to be a battle for support between the ANC and EFF, particularly at Rahube’s funeral.

Both parties claimed Rahube as their own.

The ANC ran the show at Seema’s funeral even though Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota was one of the speakers.

While the Mothutlung victims were being laid to rest, more North West towns were experiencing water shortage.

The latest town was Mmakau, which is adjacent to Mothutlung.

Jericho – which, like Mmakau and Mothutlung, forms part of the controversial Madibeng local municipality – also had no water.

On Sunday, Mmakau residents, led by the African People’s Convention Women’s League, protested outside their settlement, demanding water from the government.

APC Women’s League spokeswoman Christina Sekhoto said the water they were provided with by the army was unhygienic.

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