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‘It will not be business as usual’

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Frustrated protesters aim to bring the city’s economy to a halt and they vowed that it would not be “business as usual for anyone”.

Boshof Road was one of the roads that was closed by protesters on Monday. Picture: Danie van der Lith

LARGE parts of Kimberley were once again turned into “no-go areas” on Monday, on the eve of Freedom Day, as angry protesters blockaded several major roads in the city to demonstrate their frustration over a lack of basic services.

The city has been hit by several service delivery protests this month, where residents from different areas have called for the heads of local political leaders to roll.

Residents have accused the provincial government and Sol Plaatje Municipality of not addressing the deteriorating state of the city.

“Our city is filthy and has been in a filthy state for many years. Our homes are located in streets which are flowing with sewage, our roads are filled with potholes and we have no running water in our taps. How long must we live like animals while our leaders live like kings. Our basic rights as human beings are being trampled upon and we cannot continue as normal,” they said.

Several chain stores and many small businesses, as well petrol stations, in residential areas such as Homestead had to close their doors on Monday because many employees were not able to report for duty, as well as out of fear of being looted.

The protesters said that they wanted to bring the city’s economy to a halt in order for local government leaders to hear their cries.

“All roads leading in and out of the residential areas are closed. People will not be able to access Galeshewe, Homevale, Homelite, Roodepan, Homevale or any other area. We need to send a clear message that we refuse to continue to pretend that everything is in order. It will not be business as usual for anyone.”

The CEO of the Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nocci), Sharon Styen, said she is concerned about the effects the protest will have on local business.

“We understand the frustration of the community. The community has clearly had enough of the state of affairs in the city and the communities have suffered severely. However, there has to be another way we can solve this problem. We need to target the problem and take it to the persons who have the solution to this problem,” said Steyn.

“Many businesses in the city have taken a huge knock during the Covid-19 pandemic. There are some businesses who had to retrench employees because of the financial restraints. Should these protests continue, then other businesses might have to follow the same route as those who had to let people go.

“Many employees might even experience a cut on their salaries because some companies have a ‘no work, no pay’ policy. There are many employees who had to miss work because of not being able to get to work. The protesters need to focus on the Sol Plaatje Municipality and not let innocent people suffer.”

Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesperson Sello Matsie has urged residents to refrain from closing roads to demonstrate their anger.

“The municipality has noted the closing of roads with burning tyres and threats against motorists by some protesters. Reports on the closure of the R64 to Boshof by informal miners have also been received. We call on the different community stakeholders to desist from this form of protest and allow the municipality to implement what was presented in our detailed discussions on service delivery,” said Matsie.

“We reiterate our commitment towards ensuring that challenges, as outlined, are being attended to and with the help of the provincial executive we will definitely be able to turn things around.”

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