Police fear violence in Matatiele

Time of article published Nov 16, 2005

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Fears of violence in Matatiele erupted on Wednesday as thousands of residents protested against the incorporation of parts of the KwaZulu-Natal area into the Eastern Cape.

The crowd was angry and had threatened violence, said Matatiele police station commander Superintendent Fanie de Lange. "They will create havoc."

"There is a lot of misinformation regarding this demarcation issue and the people don't know what to believe," he said.

The latest in a series of demonstrations against the redemarcation of provincial boundaries, the protest came as Parliament approved an amendment Bill affecting the demarcations of 17 municipalities.

Of these, the most contentious are: Matiele (from KwaZulu-Natal to the Eastern Cape); Khutsong, near Carletonville (from Gauteng to North West); Bushbuckridge (from Mpumalanga to Limpopo); and Khalagadi (from North West to the Northern Cape).

Earlier this month, Khutsong residents took to the streets burning tyres and vandalising councillors' houses.

The Constitution Twelfth Amendment Bill, approved by a two-thirds majority, has yet to be signed into effect by President Thabo Mbeki.

The government had not consulted the Matatiele community about the issue, said Tiny Beneker of the Maluti mass action committee, which opposes the move.

"They are playing games with us," he said.

"We put through our submissions to Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi. We sat with him last month, and he assured us they would look at our concerns," Beneker said.

The committee had also tried several times to meet KwaZulu-Natal premier S'bu Ndebele, to no avail.

"We gave him a deadline of yesterday to meet with us, and still no word from his office.

"This is about to turn ugly," Beneker warned. - Sapa

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