May 27 - Police in Zaaiplaas at Groblersdal have made a breakthrough in their investigations into various violent protest arson incidents with the arrest of two alleged ringleaders. Photo: SAPS

GROBLERSDAL - Police in Zaaiplaas at Groblersdal have made a breakthrough in their investigations into various violent protest arson incidents, with the arrest of two alleged ringleaders, Limpopo police said on Sunday.

Limpopo police commissioner Lt-Gen Nneke Ledwaba visited the affected area in Zaaiplaas on Saturday, where school buildings and a police van were torched during violent protests in the week, Lt-Col Moatshe Ngoepe said. 

In a meeting attended by various stakeholders, an agreement was reached that would see the end of the violent protests that engulfed the area for four days, Ngoepe said.

Following Ledwaba's visit, a sting joint operation led by South African Police Service (SAPS) Groblersdal policing cluster commander Brigadier Mafete Mogwaneng was conducted in Zaaiplaas on Saturday night.

"The operation was composed of the SAPS members from the Denilton, Motetema, Groblesdal, Hlogotlou, and Nebo [areas] which resulted in the arrest of two of the ringleaders of the protests," Ngoepe said. 

The suspects, aged 24 and 29, were arrested at Keerom village, and brought to seven the total number of suspects arrested since the violence started. More arrests were expected. The seven suspects would appear in the Groblersdal Magistrate's Court on Monday on charges of arson, malicious damage to property, and assaulting a police officer.

This followed the torching of a police van, the administration blocks of Leriane Secondary School in Holneck village and Rehlahlilwe Primary School in Keerom, and the injuring of one police officer in the Zaaiplaas area. 

The unrest started when a group of community members from Zaaiplaas launched violent protests a week ago by barricading the R579. Cases of malicious damage to property, assault, and arson were opened, Ngoepe said.

Anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of the suspects involved in these incidents should please contact Captain Richard Boshomane at 079-894-5501, or the crime stop number 08600-10111 or the crime line sms 32211, or the nearest police station.

African News Agency/ANA