Fight over water jobs leads to death, injuryComment on this story
The scarcity of water has led to violent clashes which left several people injured and one believed dead in Hammanskraal on Wednesday.
A seven-month-old baby was hurt in the face with a panga during the violence and a man reportedly died after being attacked.
Victims gathered near the gate of the Jubilee Hospital nursing their wounds.
Inside, the hospital was reportedly in a sorry state because of a lack of water. Security guards denied the Pretoria News entry into the premises.
Just like the violence in Mothutlung near Brits two weeks ago, the root of the problem was water.
According to residents, it was a scene reminiscent of the “night of the long knives”, when at least 40 bakkies charged into Temba, near the water works supplying nine municipal wards.
The project is on a municipal tender of about R588 million. Residents claim municipal officials want to have their own people employed at the project but those in the area want the chance to work there.
Job Mabena said he was driving to a meeting when he came across a group of men wearing ANC T-shirts.
“Among them were at least five City of Tshwane councillors, including a member of the mayoral committee. I am a member of the ANC and I know them very well.”
He said they opened the car, slapped him in the face and pulled him out of the car before smashing it with stones and other objects.
The identities of the allegedly implicated councillors were to come out again later as more victims related their experiences.
Anna Makwele said she was inside her house when she saw a group of people, most of them in ANC T-shirts, singing struggle songs.
“In no time, they ran into our yard and inside my son’s room. At that time, another group of about 20 people came running behind them armed with grass-cutters, knob-kieries, pangas and knives.
The pursuers broke the doors, charged into the room and attacked the other group. My daughter was hit with a panga on the head during the commotion,” she said. There was blood on the floor.
Erens Kodisang said he was among people who were job-hunting at the water works when men wielding pangas and knifes pounced.
“I tried to run but they caught up with me. There were far too many of them. They stabbed me in the head, arms, everywhere,” he said.
Johannes Mpinga cut a sombre figure on a wheelchair.
He had been stabbed five times, and he too identified municipal officials who were with the group.
Dorothy Pole, a senior official of the South African National Civic Organisation in the region, reported that at about 4pm a man who had severe wounds believed to be as a result of the unrest was found dead.
Halfway between the hospital and the reservoirs, at an open ground, sat several men, most of them in ANC colours and holding knobkieries, among other weapons.
Touch Mashaba, senior ANC official in the region, spoke for this group. He said the carnage was a result of events of the previous night when members of the community closed the valves at the reservoirs, leaving thousands without water.
“Residents from the other areas then accused the locals of believing they were entitled to jobs on the project since they lived in the area,” he said.
Mashaba said that from what he heard, the violence was the doing of residents of Temba and was triggered by the late arrival of their leaders to a meeting. “The people you see here were not involved in the violence. Well, maybe some of them may have been since they are members of the local community.
“But the real reason we are here is to mobilise ANC supporters for a regional rally we are hosting at Moretele Park in Mamelodi at the weekend.”
Tshwane ANC spokesman Burton Joseph said the conflict was between two groups of residents and could be attributed to subcontracting for the service provider who had won the tender for the reservoir. “Basic services should be delivered to the people. We will fight for this right to be protected and for service to be provided to all our people. This matter must be resolved as a matter of urgency between the municipality and the service provider responsible for the project.
“We also urge citizens to express themselves in a disciplined manner. We can’t condone violence.”