Kimberley - Chaos broke out in Club 2000 on Monday, with stones flying and weapons being brandished between residents and ANC leaders during a service delivery protest that turned violent.
The chairman of the ANC in the Arshall Dyushu branch, Thakadu Sebeela, pulled out a knife to defend the embattled Ward 17 councillor, Angela Amina Modise, as well as the branch secretary, Stephen Macomo.
Some residents were threatening to attack Macomo with a garden pick.
Community members said they were furious with Macomo because he had come to Modise’s defence during an altercation between her and the community.
Sebeela said that he pulled out the knife and snatched the garden pick from the community member in order to prevent anyone from getting injured.
The police intervened and disarmed the residents and escorted Modise from the hostile crowd.
“We want to make an example of her (Modise)! She undermines us. She thinks she can use us as a ladder to the top and just ditch us afterwards,” residents shouted.
“We live, eat and sleep in s**t while she lives in a flat in town! Today she will know us!”
The protesters also almost got into a physical fight with taxi operators using the route and the police once again had to intervene, asking the taxi operators to use alternative roads.
When the DFA arrived on the scene, the residents had barricaded Nobengula Road with rocks and burning tyres.
Although it first appeared that community members were united in their protest action, they later were divided into groups, in defence or against Modise.
The violent outbursts continued sporadically during the course of the morning and at one point residents aligned to Modise clashed with those who were baying for her blood.
At one stage, residents marched from Nobengula Road to Peace Street and looted cardboard boxes at a shop there to set them alight.
Members of the police intelligence unit had to intervene asking the leaders of the protest, Tebogo Pharasi and Tsile Segwagwa (ANC Youth League leader in the branch), to direct the protesters to one meeting place because the police could not control the several smaller groupings.
Earlier on, during the protest, a heated verbal exchange erupted between Modise, Pharasi and Segwagwa.
Although the protest was initially about lack of service delivery in the area, including the constantly blocked sewerage system which residents said was making them sick, the electricity cuts affecting the poor and the high unemployment rate of youth in the area, it turned political with both Modise, Pharasi and Segwagwa launching attacks on each other.
“You (Modise) have divided the ward! You are not holding meetings with the public and (ANC) branch. What do you report at council level because you don’t hold meetings with us? You must also explain why people have not been compensated for the 2009 dam disaster and why you are practising nepotism when appointing people to jobs during projects in the area,” Pharasi said.
“You are a liar! When we elected you to this post, you promised people that they would have land on which to build their shanties but that is not happening. Instead, we now have a church on the land where the shacks were supposed to be built,” Segwagwa accused Modise.
Responding to the allegations, Modise said that it was a known fact that Pharasi and Segwagwa never supported her as ward councillor and that they were colluding with one official at the municipality to unseat her.
“I know that you organised the residents because you want to oust me.”
Modise also accused Pharasi and Segwagwa of misleading the community and telling lies.
“Why are you not telling the community that the former councillor was among those who wrongly benefited from the dam payouts?
“When it comes to jobs in the area, I want to state that I am not an employment agency,” Modise said.
She added that she felt that her life was in danger because Segwagwa had threatened to set her house on fire and Pharasi had been harassing her.
Pharasi, however, rejected Modise’s claims saying that Segwagwa never uttered such a statement. “If Modise feels that we are harassing her, she must open a case.”
Although the protesting residents gave Modise and the municipality until Friday to respond to their grievances, Pharasi said that they would continue with the protest action.
By late Monday, the protest had been joined by ward 31 and had moved to the house of the ward councillor, Moses Nhlapo.
Police spokesman Lieutenant Sergio Kock said that they will continue to monitor the situation.
Municipal spokesman Sello Matsie said that the municipality would try to respond to the community’s grievances within the given time-frame.
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