“The MEC strongly condemns the violent behaviour of community members and the vandalisation of municipal infrastructure and properties.”
COMMUNITY members from Valspan and Jan Kempdorp have vowed to continue to protest until their pleas regarding poor service delivery are attended to.
Northern Cape police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Dimakatso Mooi said on Thursday that the situation was “currently calm”.
“Roads were opened after protesters barricaded roads in Jan Kempdorp on Wednesday and forced their way into the municipal chambers. Stun grenades were used to disperse the group. No injuries were reported. The police will continue to monitor the situation,” said Mooi.
The protesters meanwhile distanced themselves from incidents of looting at tuck shops in Valspan and an incident where a store was apparently broken into at Andalusia Park on Wednesday night.
“We have been peacefully protesting and are supporting the tuck shop owners. We urge the police to arrest the looters as we do not condone violence.”
Northern Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul sent a delegation from provincial government to meet with the community on Wednesday in Jan Kempdorp as he was unable to attend, due to prior commitments.
The protesters said that the community had insisted on being addressed at the Valspan stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
“The delegation wanted community representatives to meet with them at the municipal chambers but we wanted them to address the entire community.
“The delegation was escorted by the police to the Phokwane municipal offices and proceeded to meet with political heads and councillors. We followed them to the new venue as we were not able to hand over the memorandum at the stadium.”
Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta) provincial communications manager Lerato Khunou said on Thursday that the delegation was prepared to meet representatives of the community to receive the memorandum, as requested.
“The MEC for Coghsta, Bentley Vass, the MEC for Transport, Safety and Liaison, Nomandla Bloem, the director-general of the Province, Justice Bekebeke, and members of the Provincial Rapid Response Task Team went on a site inspection and were ready to meet representatives of the community,” said Khunou.
She explained that due to the urgency of the service delivery challenges that Phokwane Local Municipality is currently facing, particularly in Jan Kempdorp, Vass first wanted to engage with the mayor and councillors, together with the acting municipal manager.
“This was in order to immediately respond to these concerns and engage with the community leaders and craft the way forward.
“Chaos erupted when members of the Provincial Rapid Response Task Team (RRTT) requested that only a few community representatives should form part of the engagement and hand over the memorandum. As per Covid-19 regulations not all community members would be allowed inside the municipal chambers. Community members forced their way through into the venue. The police had to disperse the angry crowd.”
Khunou added that the MEC, together with the provincial RRTT, had to be escorted by members of the SAPS before they could receive the memorandum.
“It is therefore important to state unequivocally that MEC Bentley Vass, MEC Bloem, the director-general Bekebeke and Provincial Rapid Response Task Team, on behalf of the provincial government fulfilled, the required oversight role.”
She stated that the team had accompanied a community leader to physically inspect the areas of concern identified by the community.
“The Municipal Systems Act 32 of 2000 provides clear guidelines in terms of what communities should do if they are unhappy and it also encourages community participation at a local government sphere.
“The MEC for Coghsta acknowledges that there are service delivery challenges in the areas that need urgent attention. However, he strongly condemns the violent behaviour of community members and the vandalisation of municipal infrastructure and properties.”