Protest action over dissatisfaction with municipal services was expected to flare up again yesterday (Wednesday) as Ga-Rena Rental Village residents would have advanced on the civic centre with their demands.
Last Thursday, Seshego residents marched to Polokwane Municipality’s civic centre in the city to hand over a memorandum of demands to acting Executive Mayor Jeneffer Malope. The demands included that all new smart meters be removed and that all residents pay a flat rate of R40 per month for basic services. They also insisted that “all bills be cancelled” and that “all people who were given receipts for RDP’s registration be given their houses”.
The group of disgruntled residents was led by community representatives Matome Ramabu and William Makgoba. Ramabu alleged that the smart meter system is another mechanism used by the municipal officials to loot money. The municipality was given 14 days to respond to the demands and residents threatened that they will remove smart meters themselves if the municipality fails to do so.
Communications and Marketing Manager of the municipality, Matshidiso Mothapo said that the installation of smart meters was preceded by a thorough public participation process. He also confirmed that officials of the municipality recently embarked on a programme in terms of which residents of Seshego was afforded an opportunity to come forward with any challenges with billing. “We went out there and assisted consumers that responded to our call that was widely announced in the media,” Mothapo said.
Mothapo confirmed that the municipality will attend to the contents of the memorandum and provide feedback to the community.
Provincial Police spokesperson Moatshe Ngoepe confirmed that a man was arrested and was supposed to appear in court on Monday. At time of going to print, Ngoepe could not as yet provide the name of the accused.
During Sunday night residents of Ga-Rena Rental Village, where an amount of over R8 million is in arrears for rentals, barricaded the entrance to the establishment in Ladanna, burning refuse bins and threatening to continue with further action on Monday evening. The situation in the establishment was, however, stable and peaceful since Monday, with Police and Polokwane Municipality’s Public Safety Unit monitoring the area.
Both Communications and Marketing Manager of the municipality, Matshidiso Mothapo and Limpopo Police Spokesperson Moatshe Ngoepe confirmed on Tuesday that no reports of further unrest were received.
Acting Chief Executive Officer of Polokwane Housing Association, the managing body of Ga-Rena Rental Village, Malesela Masekoameng, said on Tuesday that the unrest was due to rumours that were spread that PHA was planning a raid on illegal electricity connections.
“It is true that we intend to act against people who break the law,” Masekwoameng confirmed and added that rental defaulters are already and will in the future be taken to the Rental Tribunal.
Story: BARRY VILJOEN