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R10m is price tag of illegal protests

15/09/2014. One of Soshanguve Block KK streets which was blocked during the service delivery protest. Picture: Oupa Mokena

15/09/2014. One of Soshanguve Block KK streets which was blocked during the service delivery protest. Picture: Oupa Mokena

Published Sep 16, 2014

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Johannesburg - Gauteng has experienced 229 illegal protests in the past three months, at a cost of R10 million to the province.

This emerged in a response by Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane in the legislature to written questions from the DA.

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Of the protests, 110 took place in Joburg, 84 were in Ekurhuleni and 35 in Tshwane.

Nkosi-Malobane cited a number of reasons for the protests.

By far the highest number of protests (131) took place because people were dissatisfied with service delivery. Other unhappiness stemmed from wage-increase demands (45), labour disputes (11), unemployment (6), resistance to the education system (5) and the rest were demands for the resignation of councillors, resistance against eviction and dissatisfaction with the high crime rate.

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The cost was mainly due to physical damage to property during the protests.

Nkosi-Malobane said the authorities had developed a crowd management model to deal with protests.

She said 623 cases of crimes related to the protests were reported during the demonstrations, with 265 arrests. The biggest crimes were public violence, damage to property, intimidation and incitement to commit public violence.

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DA infrastructure development spokesman Alan Fuchs said: “The DA supports the right of South Africans to peaceful and law-abiding protest; violence at such events is never acceptable and clearly costs the public dearly.

“It is clear, however, that much unhappiness in the province stems directly from poor government delivery and the inability of officials to adequately liaise with communities about their concerns.”

One of the biggest protests in the province involved the Congress of South African Students marching through the Joburg CBD, looting shops and vendors’ stalls.

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The protest took place in July.

The schoolchildren were demanding changes to education, such as an end to corporal punishment, proper food and a ban on application fees for placement at tertiary institutions.

Last month, a lack of electricity led some residents of Soweto to take to the the streets. Residents blockaded roads with rocks, concrete slabs, tree branches and burnt tyres.

In Ennerdale, an unfulfilled election promise prompted the community to protest, leading to the police firing rubber bullets and using teargas to disperse crowds.

Residents protesting over a lack of a sewerage system and piped water blocked the Golden Highway.

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