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Public violence, service delivery protests across Limpopo

Public Order Police remain visible in Vuwani to monitor the situation.

Public Order Police remain visible in Vuwani to monitor the situation.

The past couple of days Limpopo was hit by various incidents of taxi violence while other parts of the province were burdened by continuous service delivery protests, this time to such an extent that a medicine delivery truck of the Department of Health was reportedly used in one incident to block the road leaving patients without medicine at hospitals in the northern parts of the province.
A press release issued by the department’s acting Senior Corporate Communications Manager, Phaladi Seakgwe stated that medicine delivery to hospitals in Botlokwa, Tshilidzini, Louis Trichardt and Elim was delayed because of the road blockage on the N1 towards Botlokwa where the medicine truck was accosted by protestors and taken to be used as a blocking device.
“The department would like to apologise to patients for the delay. The MEC for Health Phophi Ramathuba appealed to members of the public to desist from such behaviour that can endanger the lives of patients depending on our hospitals for services. The truck was not damaged and its contents are still safe,” Seakgwe said, adding that the transportation of the medicine was scheduled to and delivered on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, violent protests in Vuwani erupted again on Monday during which several businesses were looted and some burnt down resulting in a shutdown of the town. “Businesses and schools in the area are still closed. During Monday evening two hardware stores were broken into and set alight. One person was arrested after found in possession of suspected stolen liquor from a looted shop. The situation is calm but some roads are still closed while the Public Order Policing Unit remains on the scene to monitor the situation,” Provincial Police spokesperson Ronel Otto stated on Tuesday.
Otto recalled an incident at Mahwelereng where mining related unrest resulted in the blockage of the Gilead road but said the issue was quickly resolved and roads reopened within hours.
Vuwani residents continue to protest against their planned inclusion into a newly demarcated Malamulele Municipality. Last Friday four suspects were arrested by Police for blocking the road to Lydenburg at Mhlaba Cross outside Ritavi. “We received reports of the road being closed by angry community members having unknown concerns. We immediately established a special task team from various Police stations and dealt with the situation resulting roads being opened within hours,” Tzaneen Police Spokesperson Moatshe Ngoepe said. Ngoepe said Korneel Manyama, Tshepo Mangana, Thabang Nkuna and a 17-year-old man appeared in the Ritavi Magistrate’s Court last week on charges of public violence. They were expected to appear again for bail application on Tuesday.
Democratic Alliance (DA) Provincial Leader, Jacques Smalle in a press release was quoted to have said that the DA condemns the looting of shops and closure of schools in the Vuwani area. “It is unacceptable for protestors to shut down schools and prevent people from going to work. All these protests across the province could have been avoided and it is clear that people are tired of empty promises and demands basic services to be accelerated but the government continues to fail them.”

Story: RC Myburgh
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