5 arrested for N West violent protest
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Johannesburg - Former leader of the Congress of SA Students Andrew Babeile has been arrested over his alleged involvement in the destruction of property belonging to the Naledi Local Municipality in North West during a protest this week.
Babeile, Lindwall Steytler, Handy Ntshotshoba, Mvuyo Ncobo and an unnamed man handed themselves over to the police on Wednesday night.
According to councillors and police, they destroyed municipal property and assaulted the municipality’s chief financial officer David Thornhill on Tuesday afternoon.
Babeile is no stranger to controversy. In 1988, he was found guilty of stabbing a white pupil with a pair of scissors at Warrenton High School, following an argument over race.
On Tuesday, hundreds of protesters from Huhudi and surrounding townships had marched to the municipality to demand jobs at the R34 road construction site between Vryburg and Schweizer-Reneke.
The group accused acting mayor Clifton Groep and Speaker Gift Mathiba of having secured jobs on the site for their family members.
Although it is a provincial road, the SA National Roads Agency is responsible for its construction and has appointed a local contractor to do the job.
The contractor approached councillors to nominate 150 people to assist them.
According to the protesters, chaos broke out after the councillors allegedly forwarded the names of people they knew.
Some protesters demanded that Groep, the Coleridge township ward councillor, step down. They accused him of failing the coloured community.
Many of the young women who were part of the protest demanded that Groep resign. They said they wanted jobs.
“I’m sick and tired of stealing. There is nothing to steal any more here in Vryburg. Let them give us jobs,” said one.
Groep denied the allegations. He said the protesters had been influenced by ANC councillors.
Last night, tension was high. Locals accused the police of not arresting the real criminals.
After the protests erupted on Tuesday, Naledi’s municipal manager Modisenyane Segapo told employees to leave early for their safety.
Two municipal security guards and a bystander were also attacked during the chaos.
Hundreds of people were expected at the Vryburg Magistrate’s Court today when Babeile and his co-accused were expected to apply for bail.