Minister and MEC run for cover

Northern Cape education MEC Grizelda Cjiekella had to be barricaded inside a room at the back of the hall where she was shielded from angry protesters. Picture: Liz�ll Muller

Northern Cape education MEC Grizelda Cjiekella had to be barricaded inside a room at the back of the hall where she was shielded from angry protesters. Picture: Liz�ll Muller

Published Jun 20, 2011

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A Northern Cape MEC had to run for her life and a national minister had to abandon his plans to attend an ANC rally in Daniëlskuil, about 150km from Kimberley, when residents protested outside the community hall.

Community leader Norman Prince said education MEC Grizelda Cjiekella had to be barricaded inside a room at the back of the hall where she was shielded from angry protesters.

When Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi arrived at the hall he saw that protesters were pelting cars with stones, turned his vehicle around and sped away.

“It was total anarchy as angry community members set the hall alight with Cjiekella still inside,” Prince said.

Cjiekella and Motsoaledi had gone to Daniëlskuil on Saturday to attend the ANC’s Siyabonga rally to thank the community for voting for the party and to congratulate the new mayor of the Kgatelopele municipality, Gloria Kgoronyane.

Prince claimed Cjiekella incited the people who had gathered outside the premises of the hall to peacefully protest against Kgoronyane, who was apparently appointed as mayor against the will of the people.

“Before the protest got out of hand, we as community leaders, asked to have a brief meeting with Cjiekella, which she then agreed to.

“But while we were telling her that we do not want Kgoronyane as our mayor because she was not chosen by us and did not come from this area, she (Cjiekella) arrogantly told us that she had nothing to say to us,” stated Prince.

At this point the protesters became hostile, he said.

“All hell broke lose as protesters pushed on to the premises of the hall and started setting it alight. What ensued was chaos with everyone running for cover.

“The MEC had to be barricaded at the back of the hall.

“Stones flew, cars were pelted with rocks and police reinforcements had to be deployed to contain the situation.”

Cjiekella, Kgoronyane and her councillors had to be escorted out of the hall under heavy police guard.

“Even at this point people still wanted to get their hands on Cjiekella and Kgoronyane,” he said.

Prince conceded that, as the leadership of the community, their efforts of containing the conduct of the protesters failed at some point.

“It is difficult to control the anger of people whose cause is just. We are standing together on this issue, we want her (Kgoronyane) gone and we will not compromise.

“In fact, we are going to make this municipality ungovernable until she and her council, which were appointed at a police station, are out of office,” he said.

Northern Cape police confirmed on Sunday that it had to escort Cjiekella, Kgoronyane and members of her council out of the hall to the police station.

“We are investigating a case of malicious damage to property, after three vehicles were damaged, including that of MEC Cjiekella and the mayor and a police vehicle,” said police spokeswoman Mashay Gamieldien.

She said no one had been arrested as yet in connection with the incident. We are, however, monitoring the situation closely.”

The ANC in the province said on Sunday it would not reverse the appointment of Kgoronyane as mayor of Kgatelopele municipality.

“No amount of stone-throwing will make us change Kgoronyane.

“She was a councillor in that municipality for five years and there was nothing wrong with her then, but now that she is mayor, not everyone wants her. We will not agree to that,” the party’s provincial secretary, Zamani Saul, said.

Cope in the province said it was unacceptable that the vehicles of high ranking government officials be stoned.

“It is also unfortunate that the life of Minister Motsoaledi was put in danger. However, we once again warn the government to start listening to the people.

‘We will not condone what those people did, but it is time for the government to listen to the views of the people. Let leaders be elected by the people,” said the party’s MPL Pakes Dikgetsi. – Pretoria News

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