Flames of fury burn in Hebron
Angry residents of Hebron township, north-west of Pretoria, who called for the troubled Madibeng Municipality to be dissolved may get their wish.
Hebron has been the scene of violent protests since Thursday, with residents demanding better service delivery and calling for the resignation of the entire executive and for the municipality to be placed under administration.
North West Premier Thandi Modise has set up a provincial task team to oversee implementation of the ministerial task team report, which uncovered maladministration, fraud and corruption in Madibeng.
“Where obstruction and resistance are encountered, the task team will not hesitate to dissolve municipalities in terms of the constitution,” Modise said.
“Though the approach of the task team collective is to be even-handed, there will be no compromise with those who have benefited in any way from corruption. Where fraud and corruption are uncovered, properties will be attached and people send to jail.”
Modise also appealed to communities to give the interventions to implement water supply and other projects, with a budget of more than R2 billion, to be rolled out across the province, a chance.
“Communities should not allow themselves to be mobilised to be part of an agenda that seeks to create chaos in order to disrupt the momentum of interventions aimed at ridding Madibeng of fraud and corruption that has negatively affected delivery of basic services,” she said.
“There is no need for communities to be misled to participate in illegal marches, burn properties or allow themselves to be used by those who seek to exploit their genuine concerns to create an environment for chaos.”
Service delivery protests continued under new mayor Tshidi Mangoathe, following demonstration over the water crisis in Mothutlung, Mmakau and Damonsville, which claimed four lives and left many injured. Mayor Poppy Magongwa, and other senior officials, were recalled by the ANC after those protests.
Hebron residents have been running amok since Thursday, barricading roads with stones and burning tyres, demanding improved service delivery.
They threw stones at passing cars and prevented anyone from entering the township, including the media. Police fired shots into the air and used tear gas to disperse the crowd. All six schools in Hebron were closed.
Six shops belonging to Somalis, Bangladeshis and Ethiopians were looted and the owners injured.
A cement truck was set alight as it made its way through Hebron.
Violence also erupted during a march over water shortages in Majakaneng, also under the Madibeng council. Protesters burned down a house belonging to councillor Lazarus Nkoma.
Hebron community leader Obed Marema said all areas under Madibeng were poorly serviced.
“Bridges have collapsed years ago and are yet to be repaired. The roads are full of potholes. Electricity and water supply is unreliable.
“We have no RDP houses, despite being on the list for ages. The houses are occupied by foreign nationals. Yet, government wastes money on useless things such as road renaming. What is the difference between Church Street and Steve Biko Street?
“The municipal executive must quit. We must have by-elections and elect leaders who will serve us. We have waited too long for the better life promised by the ANC,” he said.
Ibrahim Huriye, safety and security officer for the Somalia Association of SA, condemned the looting of the businesses.
Huriye challenged President Jacob Zuma to publicly tell foreigners to go home, since the government could not guarantee their safety.
“We see these kind of attacks every time there is a protest,” he said.
However, Marema insisted theirs was a peaceful demonstration which had been marred by unruly elements.