JOHANNESBURG - South Africa faces the risk of being enslaved by poverty, if service delivery protests do not come to an end.
This is according to Cedric Masondo, managing director of Sasria SOC Ltd, a short-term insurer.
Masondo also pointed out that claims processed by the company have increased rapidly in the 2018/19 financial year, totalling over R1.7 billion in value from over 5,000 claims, compared to over 3,000 claims in the 2017/18 financial year that amounted to around R800 million.
“In the past five years, Sasria has received over 16,000 claims valued at over R4.6 billion," said Masondo.
"Imagine what could have been done with that money. Schools and clinics could have been built, roads could have been fixed and so much more could have been done to enhance the daily living standards of South Africans. Instead, the money was used to replace damaged property.”
He added that the country needed to find different manners of engaging and solving service delivery issues.
“But something drastic needs to be done. While protest action is enshrined in our Constitution and people have the right to assemble and voice their grievances, the culture of violent protests must come to an end," said Masondo.
"If not, we will remain trapped in a cycle of poverty that never ends, because we are spending our resources on fixing the same things over and over again. This is not progress, this is not conducive to economic growth.”
Masondo's comments come after a truck and bakkie were set alight on Tuesday morning by aggrieved residents of Hekpoort in Magaliesburg who are demanding to be housed on adequate land.
A community leader in the area, Kagiso Seretse, said last year residents were promised by the municipality that they will be placed in a different area.
He, however, said the act of torching the vehicles was a pure act of criminality and distanced the community from the torching of vehicles in the area.
‘’We woke up this morning to the area engulfed with smoke. Many of the residents stay at the farm area which makes it difficult for them to perform cultural rituals," said Seretse.
"The protest started last year and the municipality had agreed to move them to an urbanised section which has however not happened and (there has been) no communication with us.”
Police spokesperson Kay Makhubele confirmed that five people were arrested in Hekpoort for public violence after the two vehicles were torched.
“Police were alerted early this morning. The truck and bakkie were burned on the R563,” Makhubele said.
Last week Friday, aggrieved Lenasia residents blocked roads leading into parts of Ennerdale, Zakarriyya Park and Lenasia South in Johannesburg as they protested against the illegal occupation of land in the area.
On Saturday, police had to fire rubber bullets to disperse land occupiers in Lenasia, while other residents marched on Saturday calling for an end to land invasions in the area.
Johannesburg Metro Police Senior Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the situation in the area had calmed.