Ladysmith shut down ends after talks with MEC
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Durban - WATER supply and transport services have been restored in Ladysmith after a meeting between Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC, Bheki Ntuli, civic group Ubumbano Lokuthula Organisation, and taxi industry representatives on Saturday.
Ladysmith, which falls under the Alfred Duma Local Municipality, had been on lockdown for three days last week following protests against mayor Vincent Madlala.
The civic group, which led the call for Madlala to step down, had the support of a taxi association that also called for Madlala’s immediate resignation based on allegations that he used council money for personal gain at the expense of service delivery.
Taxis were used to barricade all entry and exit points into and out of the town, and protesters had closed down a water treatment plant in Ezakheni E-section, cutting various areas off from the supply.
On Sunday, the MEC deplored the violent protests and shutting down of the town, saying this had a negative impact in small towns like Dundee and Newcastle.
“Our intervention as government is yielding positive results in addressing the challenges faced by residents in Ladysmith. In our engagements with the disgruntled community representatives we agreed that the Ezakheni Plant, which was shut down by protesters, should be opened to ensure that residents have access to water.
“Taxi operators also agreed to resume transport operations in the area. Our intervention is not aimed at attacking other structures of government nor taking a defensive approach toward the grievances raised by residents. However, our approach is intended at finding a lasting solution that will ensure peace and stability in Ladysmith,” said Ntuli.
He said government would take the necessary steps to ensure that law and order were maintained in Ladysmith. Police reported that several suspects had been arrested for public violence.
“Whoever is on the wrong side of the law, including those responsible for any acts of criminality, such as the burning of municipal infrastructure and destruction of property, will be dealt with harshly. The SAPS will continue to maintain high visibility and arrest those involved in criminal acts. Police have been tasked to isolate and deal decisively with all criminal elements that are the source of instability in Ladysmith. As the government our core mandate is to promote safer communities and build effective and mutually beneficial partnerships with all stakeholders in order to promote peace and stability in our communities,” he said.
A follow-up meeting with community representatives and the taxi industry will be held later this week.
Andile Hlatshwayo, spokesperson for the protesters, said it was agreed that Ntuli would handle the matter with the provincial government and return with feedback after five days.