Protesting residents remain defiant

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Copy of Copy of PN Ekangala Fire9801 [1] (39795627) INLSA Residents of Ekangala near Pretoria took to the streets during a service delivery protest. Photo: Phill Magakoe

Johannesburg - Police had their hands full on Friday as defiant residents continued to protest in several areas in the North West and Gauteng.

Protesters barricaded roads in Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg, and in Hebron and Majakaneng in North West, and promised to continue protests until government acceded to their demands.

In Boiketlong in Sebokeng, residents demanded to be addressed by President Jacob Zuma, not Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane.

“We want Msholozi (Zuma) himself, not Nomvula,” said resident Shimane Mohau on Friday.

“Zuma must come and see what his ANC was doing to its people.”

Mokonyane was scheduled to address the protesters.

The protests in Sebokeng started on Wednesday, with roads being barricaded with stones, trees and burning tyres.

They demanded better housing. Protester Lerata Rabolila, 27, was shot dead in the area during the violent protests.

Police in Bronkhorstspruit, east of Pretoria, said the area was quiet on Friday.

A week-long protest by residents saw several buildings torched, including a clinic, hall and library.

They protested over their inability to buy electricity following a merger of municipalities that resulted in a changed purchasing system. They also called for better service delivery.

Business owners in Bronkhorstspruit held a meeting with Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa to voice concerns over workers and business safety, and a loss of profit as a result of the protests.

Ramokgopa assured the business owners that police would increase patrols and ensure that workers were safe going to and from work, Tshwane spokesman Blessing Manale said on Friday.

Human settlements MEC Ntombi Mekgwe briefed journalists on the continuing protests on Friday.

Mekgwe said the solution to the problems that residents faced were constant engagement and facing “challenges head-on”.

“There are a number of avenues which are available to members of the community to raise their concerns.”

She urged residents to be responsible and not to stop children from going to school or sick people from gaining access to medicine or hospitals.

Mekgwe said 50 service delivery protests were recorded in Gauteng since last year.

“In terms of cost for the damage... for the department alone, it's about R55 million.”

She said the figure could be higher for the municipalities where infrastructure was damaged.

Residents of Hebron on Friday promised to continue their protests until government gave them what they wanted.

The barricaded roads made it hard for motorists to travel in the township on Friday.

Residents were dissatisfied with a lack of feedback from the Madibeng local municipality following their march to the council offices about two weeks ago to demand the removal of their local councillor and to have roads in the area fixed.

Comment from Madibeng spokeswoman Lebogang Tsogang could not be obtained after she had promised to reply to questions about the protests.

North West police said they had enhanced police presence and were keeping an eye on the protesters in the province.

“The community is warned that activities such as the barricading of roads, the looting and stoning of passing vehicles, are illegal and will not be tolerated,” said spokesman Sabata Mokgwabone.

“The police will take steps against any person who commits or is found to have committed a crime.”

Sapa



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