Pretoria - Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements, Urban Planning and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Lebogang Maile has assured residents of Tembisa that the government is committed to moving with speed to address their concerns.
Maile was speaking on Wednesday in the company of Ekurhuleni mayor Tania Campbell during a visit to Tembisa following two days of violent protests in the area over service delivery and ‘’expensive’’ electricity.
Maile said he had already started consulting with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan on issues related to Eskom and the focus was not only on Ekurhuleni, but on all municipalities around Gauteng.
“We want to make sure that there’s an everlasting solution to all the challenges that are facing our people, and this is in the context of understanding that the economy is not doing well and the cost of living is unbearably high.”
Maile said there were many issues which needed to be resolved. Some could be resolved in the short term, others in the medium and others would be in the long term. He added that some issues would require the national government and the province to work with the municipality.
“We commit ourselves to working with the municipality … We want to make sure that whatever happens in these engagements, we are able to solve the problems the people are facing.”
Maile acknowledged that the community’s grievances were legitimate and that the residents had a right to protest.
However, he said, “criminal elements” had taken over the protests and played a role in the escalation of the violence.
“Criminal elements have sought to hijack the genuine protests and grievances of the people. When you listen to the memorandum … you realise that the grievances are genuine and these are the issues people are facing every day.”
Since the protest started on Monday, at least four people have been killed. Several businesses were also looted and at least 31 municipal vehicles torched.
Protesters also set a sub-station on fire leading to power outages in parts of Tembisa.
Maile pinned one of the deaths to a white police officer, saying the alleged murder was racially motived.
“We must identify him, the society must march to his house, we must demand that he hands himself over, we must demand that he apologises. We must never be nice with racists.”
No arrests have been made in relation to the deaths.
Campbell said the matter of the deaths had been handed over to the police for investigation.