Blind eye to violence

By SAMKELO MTSHALI And DAILY NEWS REPORTER Time of article published May 27, 2016

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Durban - The SABC has declared an immediate blackout on footage of the burning of schools and other facilities, saying “we will not cover people who are destroying public property”.

“It is regrettable that these actions are disrupting many lives, and as a responsible public institution we will not assist these individuals to push their agenda that seeks media attention,” said the corporation’s chief operations officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

“As a public broadcaster we have a mandate to educate the citizens, and we therefore have taken this bold decision to show that violent protests are not necessary,” he said.

“We would like to encourage citizens to protest peacefully.”

The SABC appealed to other broadcasters and the print media to stand in solidarity with the public broadcaster not to cover the violent protests that are on the rise, and in turn, destroying public institutions.

As the broadcaster was preparing its ban, residents of Umbumbulu, south of Durban, burnt a municipal customer service office and an oil tanker in the latest show of public anger with the ANC over its choice of candidates for the municipal elections.

Protests broke out on Thursday with residents saying they felt deceived by the candidate selection process in eThekwini’s Ward 96.

The SABC condemned the burning of public facilities, saying “we are not going to provide publicity to such actions that are destructive and regressive”.

It said continuing to promote them might encourage other communities to do the same. At Thursday's violence near Durban, one resident, speaking anonymously, said that the candidate-elect, Lihle Makhanya, was being imposed on them and that they preferred the incumbent councillor.

Incumbent Godfrey “Kutu” Maphumulo was reluctant to speak about his non-selection.

“I condemn the destruction of infrastructure that is supposed to assist in helping to meet their needs as a community,” Maphumulo said.

Police spokesman, Major Thulani Zwane, confirmed that a municipal Sizakala Customer Service Centre and a horse-and-tanker had been set alight. A case of malicious damage to property and public violence had been lodged at Umbumbulu police station. No arrests have been made. Public order police were in the area monitoring the situation, said Zwane.

The ANC spokesman in KwaZulu-Natal, Mdumiseni Ntuli, echoed Maphumulo’s sentiment. He said people should not vent their anger over party political matters by damaging public infrastructure meant to meet their daily needs.

“We believe that problems should not be solved through confrontation, but in a civil manner. The ANC has resolved many of these protests in this manner and we will continue to resolve them,” Ntuli said.

He said when people aired their grievances in a democratic manner, in which proper procedures had been followed to resolve issues, they should remember the outcome would not always necessarily suit them.

Municipal IQ, a web-based data service, noted that communities across the country had been experiencing protests in the run-up to the August 3 local government elections.

“Gauteng and the Eastern Cape have seen the most protests this year so far. Twenty-six percent of demonstrations have taken place in Gauteng, the Eastern Cape recorded 24%, followed by KwaZuluNatal, while the Western Cape has been the scene of 11% of violent protests,” Municipal IQ said.

Properties belonging to councillors and municipalities have been torched in various parts of KZN since the beginning of the year.

Political analyst, Protas Madlala, attributed the protests to service delivery and

the imposing of councillors on the people.

“August is too far away and I am not sure how many more buildings, especially schools, will be destroyed. There is a series of events that lead to these kinds of protests.”

Another analyst, Somadoda Fikeni, said this was a window of opportunity for protesters to make demands as elections drew closer. “The political leaders will show up at places where they have not been for a while or since they were elected to try to resolve the problems,” he said. – Additional reporting

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