Protest leaders flee after homes destroyed

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PRETORIA NEWS

Tshepo and Johannes Mpinga, along with Erens Kodisang, were admitted to Jubilee Hospital in Hammanskraal for treatment after they were attacked by an angry mob. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Pretoria - Five men who led an informal group of more than a thousand unemployed people looking for jobs at a water reservoir project in Hammanskraal are on the run after their homes were burned or pulled down.

Doctor Maifadi, Thabang Shipalane, Jabulani Skosana, Paul Masoma and Titus Koto fled after several people stormed in, baying for their blood on Thursday night.

Only Maifadi’s home was still intact yesterday, and he said he did not think the attackers knew where he lived.

The incidents followed a week of violence which saw residents of Temba attacked on Wednesday morning.

The victims claimed the attackers were wearing ANC T-shirts and acted on instruction of City of Tshwane councillors and a member of the Mayoral Committee. Their names have been withheld.

Burton Joseph, ANC Tshwane spokesman, and a senior party official in the Hammanskraal area, Touch Mashaba, have denied this and said the municipal officials were there to try to resolve the conflict.

The residents have also accused the officials of wanting to have their own people employed at the project, even those from outside Hammanskraal.

At the centre of the storm are jobs at the reservoir project, which is on a municipal tender.

Residents of other sections of Hammanskraal said the Temba people wanted to have exclusive rights to jobs at the project because it was based in their area.

They have also accused Temba residents of shutting down the water supply in order to delay the project, so they could have jobs for a longer period.

The injured were treated at Jubilee Hospital, among them a seven-month-old baby who was hit in the face with a panga. One person is reported to have been killed.

Maifadi said almost a hundred people in several cars arrived at the Chris Hani section and specifically targeted their homes, unlike in Temba on Wednesday where they were even attacking people in the streets.

“Most of the residents ran away and Chris Hani was deserted for most of the evening. They were looking for us, and when they could not find us, they broke down our houses,” said Masoma.

Almost all the windows of his house were damaged. Inside, furniture and cutlery were scattered on the floor. A television was smashed against the wall.

His bakkie, which was parked in the yard, as well as his shop which is situated a few metres down the road, were both damaged.

Shipalane’s house was burned down, while Koto’s was reduced to a heap of corrugated iron and wood.

A few metres away, workmen were loading the belongings of the Maifadi family on to a truck.

He said he had decided to move his family to a safer area.

Blessing Manale, Tshwane spokesman, said councillors and other municipal officials subscribed to a code of conduct and may not be part of any form of protest and unrest.

Manale said the water project should go ahead and be completed.

“People cannot celebrate 20 years of democracy without water, a basic commodity. Also, the community has no right to stop a project irrespective of where it is situated and who will benefit from it,” he said.

Manale said executive mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa had vowed to get his hands dirty and resolve the problem in Hammanskraal.

“The city condemns any form of service delivery protest that involves violence.

“If people are unhappy, they can petition the city or select a delegation that will meet with the leadership to ensure a feasible solution to their problems is found,” Manale added.

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Pretoria News Weekend


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