Home News Accused in road paving case are being framed – defence

Accused in road paving case are being framed – defence

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The defence counsel for 12 people who have been accused of disrupting a R12.7 million road paving project in Colesberg last year has suggested that individuals were sent to frame his clients as they were never on site at the time of the incident.

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THE DEFENCE counsel for 12 people who have been accused of disrupting a R12.7 million road paving project in Colesberg last year has suggested that individuals were sent to frame his clients as they were never on site at the time of the incident.

The Umsobomvu Local Municipality obtained an urgent interim interdict to prevent 12 business persons and Colesberg residents from disrupting and interfering in the work of Zalisile Msebenzi Civils (Pty) Ltd, which was contracted to upgrade roads in Madikane and Nqandu streets, Kuyasa, Colesberg during May 2021.

The contractor had on March 9, 2021 instructed its workers not to risk their lives and to halt all activities on site following unrest, where 12 persons were identified as the “main culprits instigating the unrest and damages”.

They were also accused of demolishing a fence at the site camp and “physically carrying it away” on March 19, 2021.

Damages to the site camp, property containers, site fencing and poles was estimated to amount to R50,000.

It is alleged that an official was threatened that his bakkie would be set alight.

The acting municipal manager, Birtus Kapp, in court papers, pointed out that on April 1, 2021, the N1 Cash & Carry was gutted by fire and “burnt to the ground”.

He added that rocks and boulders were used to obstruct roads leading into Kuyasa township.

“This occurs from day to day. On April 21, 2021, arson again occurred at Cashbuild hardware shop during the night. On April 12, 2021, I experienced a sit-in in my office. A march was organised to my office at the municipality …. my office was occupied for two hours. Eventually, I had to call in the SAPS and after their intervention the perpetrators left.”

Kapp added that a Caterpillar roller valued at R800,000 and a Caterpillar excavator worth R1.3 million, which were purchased by the contractor, were set alight by unknown persons on March 5, 2021.

“On March 8, 2021, the site office was locked with padlocks and chains, preventing staff from entering or leaving the site camp. On March 9, 2021, all work was stopped and the picks, axes and shovels of the workers were forcefully taken.”

Kapp stated that the costs relating to personnel and staff salary losses amounted to R124,400.

“As a result of the activities of the respondents, the execution of the work to upgrade Madikane and Nqandu streets in Kuyasa township is being delayed. They are interfering with, hindering and impeding the work of the municipality.”

Kapp pointed out that the municipality stood to lose the funds that were allocated to it by the municipal infrastructure grant for the road project.

The administrator of the project, Xoliswa Mbothiwe, testified in the Northern Cape High Court on Tuesday that the 12 persons were not on site at the time of the alleged incident.

She added that the fence had been demolished on March 19 before she arrived on site.

A general worker, Bongani Manzi, told the court that work on the site was halted on March 3, 2021 after a “gang of people” gave instructions that work should be stopped.

“We were pushed around and our picks and axes were taken from us. The gang raised their voices and you could see that they were furious. I was frightened that they would come back and beat us up.”

Manzi stated that the gang had threatened them, saying that the workers employed on the project would “not work there any more”.

“On March 4, the gates were padlocked, while on March 9 a lady grabbed me by my clothes and instructed me to stop working.”

Manzi added that he was sworn at when he arrived at the site the following day.

“We only stopped working on March 10.”

He indicated that he was also able to identify the respondents by their voices.

“No one sent me to identify the respondents, I saw what I saw with my own eyes.”

The legal representative for the 12 respondents, advocate Siyanda Sindikolo, argued that his clients, who were accused of disrupting operations, were not on site when the incident took place.

“One of my clients was in the office, scanning documents at the time. It would be impossible to identify all the perpetrators if Manzi was being attacked. The community liaison officer and administrator of the project both testified that my clients were not on the scene. They told the court that after March 9, 2021 no work took place on site.”

Sindikolo believed that Manzi was misleading the court and suggested that he was “commissioned” to point out his clients.

Advocate Henri Benade is appearing on behalf of Umsobomvu Local Municipality and the matter is being heard before Judge Mpho Mamosebo in the Northern Cape High Court.

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