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Gauteng protests ‘not about service delivery’

Johannesburg - The current spate of protests in Gauteng are not over service delivery, ANC Gauteng secretary David Makhura said on Thursday.

“There is always some development in the area (where there are protests) and that development is always a source of conflict in the community about who must benefit,” he told reporters in Johannesburg.

Service delivery protesters in Durban Deep on the West Rand blocked Main Reef Road, badly affecting rush-hour traffic. One man was killed in the area. Picture: Matthews Baloyi. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

“We have always characterised this, not as service delivery protests, they are protests relating to one type of development issue or the other.”

Makhura said the African National Congress-led government at local, provincial, and national level had done a great deal in rolling out infrastructure and that always created new dynamics.

Makhura was briefing media following a provincial executive committee (PEC) lekgotla held at the weekend.

He said the lekgotla condemned the violent protests taking place and the party would take disciplinary action against any of its members fuelling violence during these protests.

“The lekgotla took a firm stance against violent protests and called for harsh measures to be taken against those involved in the burning of public buildings and homes of councillors.

“Disciplinary action shall be taken against members of the ANC and alliance structures who instigate violence during community protests.”

He said the lekgotla called for a prompt response to concerns raised by communities.

A number of “service delivery” protests have broken out around the province recently.

Protests erupted in the townships of Zithobeni, Rethabiseng, and Ekangala near Bronkhorstspruit, east of Pretoria, over the high price of electricity.

Several buildings had been set alight since last Thursday, including a clinic, a library, and a hall.

A total of seven buildings were set alight during protests in the area. Two people were arrested in Rethabiseng on Wednesday for public violence and illegal public gathering.

In Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg, a protester was killed on Wednesday and five others arrested for public violence.

Makhura said the ANC had been very active in the areas and had visited Bronkhorstspruit and Sebokeng.

In Sebokeng the party called on police to investigate, after a protester was killed, and the ANC itself was also investigating to make sure that no ANC member was involved.

“Criminals should not be allowed to terrorise our communities,” he said.

Makhura commended police for showing restraint during the protests.

“In which country can you have people who protest who go and attack police at their police station?

“The police have been very restrained there, they could have shot people.”

However, firm action had to be taken, he said.

Sapa

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