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Chaos at meeting

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The two groups clashed and fighting broke out, leading police to fire stun grenades

DISRUPTION: A group that is supporting the under-fire executive mayor of Sol Plaatje Municipality, Mangaliso Matika, tried to disrupt a community meeting that was held in Galeshewe yesterday afternoon. Picture: Danie van der Lith

CHAOS erupted yesterday at a community meeting in Galeshewe – held to discuss the way forward following the recent calls for the Sol Plaatje executive mayor, Mangaliso Matika, to step down – when a “pro-Matika” group of protesters arrived and attempted to disrupt the meeting.

More than 60 police vehicles and hundreds of police officials, brought in from several outside provinces, were present at the meeting and seen watching from all directions.

While the meeting, attended by about 2 000 community members, started peacefully, organisers warned attendees that “people were gathering and on their way to disrupt the meeting”.

“Our own brothers and sisters want to come here and disrupt a community – not political – meeting. What they don’t know is that when attacked, we will retaliate and protect ourselves,” Wanya Tsotsi spokesperson, Pantsi Obusitse, told attendees.

About 10 minutes into the meeting a group of about 50 people, many dressed in ANC colours, were seen approaching the meeting while chanting “we are here to defend the ANC”.

Some community members attending the meeting moved towards the protesters in an attempt to stop them from reaching the meeting place.

The two groups clashed and fighting broke out, leading police to fire stun grenades.

The two groups ran in different directions after the stun grenades were fired and the meeting continued.

The group of protesters again approached the meeting place but were this time prevented from doing so by the police.

The small “pro-Matika” group claimed that they were only there to “protect their city and their mayor”.

“We will see to it that no road is again closed and that our city and our mayor are protected. Wanya Tsotsi is promoting crime instead of preventing it. Our children are suffering, as they can’t get to school. This is all because Wanya Tsotsi has a personal agenda and is using the community to further its cause,” one of the protesters, Teddy Ntayza, said.

Another woman amongst the group of protesters, Gloria Peterson, noted that “Matika is not going anywhere” and added that only council could decide who to fire.

“If there are allegations against Matika they must bring proof. Until then, our mayor is not going anywhere,” she said.