Protests, 'absence of presence' made 2018 a tough year for Supra Mahumapelo

By Molaole Montsho Time of article published Dec 28, 2018

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Rustenburg - Violent protests to push former premier Supra Mahumapelo out of office swept through the North West province this year.

The protests started in Montshioa near Mahikeng on April 18. Angry residents blocked roads with burning objects and torched a bus, calling for Mahumapelo to resign. 

The mayhem spread to other villages surrounding the capital, Mahikeng, which was locked down for three days. The unrest spilled over to other parts of the province but was most intense in the Klerksdorp and Mahikeng areas.

President Cyril Ramaphosa cut short his investment visit in the United Kingdom to return and meet with African National Congress (ANC) structures in the province. He called for calm while the ANC was dealing with the matter.

On May 8, during his official budget vote, Mahumapelo told a sitting of the North West provincial legislature that he would write a letter to the speaker before May 11.

"In some critical instances of our lives, we are called upon as part of humanity to create the essence of the absence of presence. It is therefore in this context of creating the essence of the absence of presence, that in full compliance with the constitution of the republic, the speaker will receive a commitment in writing before Friday [May 11] this week," he said.

But on May 9, when he was expected to officially announce his resignation as premier, Mahumapelo chaired an ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) meeting that was set to discuss his resignation. His supporters chanted "No Supra, no vote" outside the meeting venue. 

Mahumapelo clung to power until he eventually resigned on May 23. Professor Job Mokgoro was elected premier of the North West on June 22.

In Rustenburg, a violent protest against foreign nationals left eight guesthouses torched.

On January 11, 2018, taxi drivers went on a massive "raid" of properties that belong to Nigerian nationals, accusing them of drug peddling and running brothels in the platinum city. This was after a taxi driver was allegedly stabbed by drug addicts. The taxi driver later died in hospital.

The taxi drivers were joined by some community members and together the crowds raided houses suspected of being brothels and drug houses. Eight guesthouses were set alight in the process. 

A group of Nigerian men launched a revenge attack and allegedly assaulted and robbed people in Rustenburg Noord and Waterval before they went to the Rustenburg police station complaining that they were being attacked by locals and said that thpolice were not helping them.

The group allegedly blocked the entrance to the police station on January 21.

Michael Obina Okeke, 37; Casmir Onyekasai Ayogu, 33; Osondu Ofuma, 37; Justice Onyegbule, 34; Lawrence Azabayi, 43; Patrick Ogbondo, 39; Emmanuel Arundze, 34; Patrick Udeh, 33; Michael Chukuku, 33; Kenneth Udeh, 43; Stanley Ndudi Onyekwele, 25; Andrew Akpalla, 48; Jerry Okoro, 43; and Ikechukwu Levi, 28, were arrested for public violence.

The charge was later downgraded to one that was related to immigration. Those who were in South Africa without proper documents were deported and those who had proper documents were released.

African News Agency (ANA)

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