Grabouw - A meeting between municipal representatives and role players behind last week's protest in Grabouw has led to an agreement, announced on Monday, on the way forward for the Western Cape town.
The Theewaterskloof Municipality (TWK) and Grabouw Civics Organisation (GCO) said in a joint statement on Monday a forum was to be established to serve as a dispute prevention and resolution mechanism.
According to the statement, it was recognised that the chaos last week “left a devastating impact on the reputation of Grabouw, the local economy and the lives of ordinary people”.
“The excellent outcome to Friday's meeting encouraged us to immediately proceed with the establishment of a forum for dispute prevention and dispute resolution,” they said.
“Such a forum should have representation of the broader Grabouw community such as the taxi association, the business sector, organised agriculture and the churches.”
Grievances listed in the protesters' memorandum handed to the municipality last week were all listed in an addendum to the statement with reaction to each one. It included proposed action steps as well.
The statement was signed by TWK mayor Chris Punt and GCO chairman John Michels. Michels was one of the main organisers of the protest that eventually spiralled into violence.
More than 50 people representing the municipality, the protesters, police, community organisations and the Grabouw Taxi Association met for more than four hours at the Grabouw police station on Friday.
That was followed by Monday's meeting at the Grabouw municipal offices in Pineview to agree to the joint statement.
A list of demands was handed to Theewaterskloof municipal officials after two protest marches, the first on August 20, and the second on Monday.
Last week, access to the N2 highway was blocked for three days and there was extensive damage to private and public property. Workers were intimidated and local businesses closed.
Twelve schools in the area were closed in the middle of the preliminary matric exams and more than 5000 pupils were sent home.
GCO committee member and African National Congress supporter Zwai Bhangazana said he was not satisfied with the outcome of the meetings.
He said the people who protested last week were tired of all the forums being created.
“This is going to be yet another one.”
He said what the people wanted to see was action at the grass-roots level.
“We want to see the roads repaired, the electricity supplied and the houses being built,” Bhangazana said.
Bhangazana was the last person to address a crowd of more than 1000 protesters on Thursday last week before they dispersed.
He played an important role in restoring calm and was also one of the most vocal and angry representatives at the meeting on Friday.
GCO secretary Margaret le Roux said she was satisfied with the outcome.
“At least there will now be opportunities where we can make the municipality listen to us,” she said.
However, she said there was a second memorandum that had not yet been answered.
“Our people will not be satisfied until all those grievances are also addressed and they see the necessary results.”
The GCO organised a rally to be held at Pineview Park Sport Field on Monday night.
“We want to give our supporters and the community feedback,” Le Roux said.
Church and other community leaders, union representatives and school principals were invited.