A complete shutdown of services at Vuwani outside Thohoyandou where violent protests the past week lead to roads being barricaded with stones and burning tyres, vehicles and buildings being set alight and schools and businesses closed, was suspended after Premier Stan Mathabatha visited the area on Tuesday.
Premier’s Spokesperson Kenny Mathivha said the main issue in the area is that some residents do not want Vuwani to be demarcated under the Malamulele Municipality.
“Protestors recently handed a memorandum to the Office of the Premier. It was forwarded to the Municipal Demarcation Board and is being processed,” Mathivha said. He added that Mathabatha warned protestors that the Police will not hesitate to do their job should violence erupt again.
A Police Nyala was also set alight at Vuwani last week. “No injuries were reported and Police arrested one person in connection with public violence. The man appeared in court on Tuesday, was released on R1 000 bail and warned to appear before court again on 20 August,” Provincial Police Spokesperson Ronel Otto said. She added that all was calm and shops and schools were open yesterday (Wednesday) morning.
Violent protest actions were also reported at Namakgale outside Phalaborwa where issues about the traditional leadership in the area resulted in roads being blocked with trees, stones and burning tyres. Several vehicles were also set alight. Otto could not recall any arrests in the area.
In Steelpoort several trucks were set alight during protest action the past two weeks. “Last week violence erupted again as residents protested in front of the municipal building where a meeting between delegates from different mines in the area was held. Public Order Police members had to intervene to disperse protestors who attempted to build a wall across the R37,” Otto said. Since the start of the violence in the Steelpoort Burgersfort area, 25 people were arrested who appeared in various courts facing charges of public violence and malicious damage to property, Otto said.
At Tshaulu in the Thohoyandou area protesting community members have destroyed properties in the area after accusing individuals of being responsible for the deaths of three people since the beginning of the year. “On 3 March the body of a woman was found in her bed. She had sustained serious head injuries. In June a 47-year-old man was reported missing and his body found among vegetation three days later. In July a 51-year-old man’s body was found floating in a river,” Otto reported. She added that no indication of ritual killings were found but communities started protesting and set alight two houses and a tavern.
She said Public Order Police members are deployed at all areas where public violence was reported. “They are closely monitoring all areas and are ready to intervene at any time should violence erupt again. At this stage all areas were quiet,” Otto said yesterday (Wednesday).
Provincial Police Commissioner Fannie Masemola has condemned the violent incidents across the province and said Police will not tolerate any lawless and violent behaviour in cases where property are damaged, people assaulted or killed or any form of intimidation.
“Those taking part in this heinous and abhorrent crimes will be dealt with swiftly, tough and decisively. We will work hard with other stakeholders to ensure that those arrested will face the full might of the law and that maximum sentences are ensured,” he said.
Story: RC Myburgh