Ekurhuleni councillors flee mob

KUTLWANO OLIFANT

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SIX EKURHULENI metro councillors are under police protection in an undisclosed hideout following violent service delivery protests in the area.

The six had to flee their homes in the township after residents threatened to set their houses on fire.

The homes were placed under police guard during the raging violence, which started on Wednesday evening.

City of Ekurhuleni spokesman Zweli Dlamini said: “Apart from attacking municipal property and shops belonging to foreign nationals, there were attempts to attack houses and other property belonging to councillors and even former councillors in the area.

“As a municipality, we have a responsibility to protect our communities and the police and metro police have been instructed to leave no stone unturned in nailing all those criminal elements who were behind the spate of criminal activities during the action. Luckily, some of them were captured on video,” he said.

Dlamini told The Star that a customer care centre building worth R15 million in ward 78 had been vandalised and a vehicle belonging to the metro had been set alight.

“It is clear from what we have observed on the ground that criminals are behind the uprisings,” he said.

“Most of the shops belonging to foreign nationals were looted and bakkies could be spotted leaving the township loaded with stolen goods.

“Two more vehicles belonging to employees of the City of Ekurhuleni were looted during the protests on Tuesday. Computers were stolen from the building,” he said.

Dlamini added that the metro had first heard about the planned service delivery protest a couple of weeks ago, but it had remained unclear what it was about – and the status quo remained, as there was no one who had come forward to claim leadership of the action.

Meanwhile, police and members of the Ekurhuleni metro police department remained visible in the area with hundreds of marchers protesting in the streets yesterday.

The protest was relatively calm and peaceful unlike the chaotic scenes that erupted the day before. Residents barricaded roads with stones and burning tyres.

Schooling in the area was also disrupted, as dozens of pupils missed school and joined in the protest.

Residents told The Star they wanted to continue receiving the free 100 electricity units they had been receiving from the municipality monthly.

Pensioner Letta Mabena, 62, said the cutting of the free units since the beginning of this year had made life difficult for them.

Mabena said she spent more than R600 a month on electricity.

“Three hundred rand is too little for a month. Now that it’s cold, we need heaters, but we can’t put them on because electricity is costly,” said the grandmother of two orphans.

Mabena takes care of her twin grandchildren whose parents have died.

Besides her pension income, Mabena sells fatcakes to make ends meet.

Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said 25 people who had been arrested appeared in court yesterday, charged with illegal gathering.

“Thirteen people were arrested for housebreaking and several others were arrested for business burglary,” he said.

Dlamini said the rest of the people arrested would appear in court today.

The ANC in Gauteng has called for calm in KwaThema.

In a statement yesterday, the party called on the KwaThema protesters to express their demands peacefully.

“Many people in the area are poor and unemployed, but that does not give them a licence to anarchy, vandalism and burning of government property.

“Any protest associated with violence is criminal because it destroys any legitimate intentions,” the party said.


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