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More protests across city

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A house belonging to the Magareng Municipality mayor was damaged after protesters pelted the property with stones.

SEVERAL service delivery protests erupted throughout the city yesterday, as more community members expressed their discontent over a lack of basic services and electricity blockages.

Protest action took place in various areas including informal settlements as well as Royal Street, Corless and Barkly roads, Green, Findlayson and Moshoeshoe streets, John Daka and Lerato Park.

A woman who claimed that she was shot with live ammunition and sustained injuries during a protest in Corless Road has opened charges of attempted murder against the police.

Police spokesperson, Captain Bashoabile Kale, said the SAPS Public Order Police arrested four men and one woman on charges of public violence at Tikkie Stop in Galeshewe yesterday.

“The suspects will appear in the Galeshewe Magistrate’s Court soon. The police used stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds that were violent. No property was damaged. It is alleged that a woman was injured and we can confirm that the woman has opened a case of attempted murder against the police,” said Kale.

In Warrenton, 28 suspects were arrested during service delivery protests, where 13 of the suspects appeared before the Warrenton Magistrate’s Court on charges of public violence yesterday.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Mohale Ramatseba indicated that the remaining 15 suspects were expected to appear in court today.

Ramatseba confirmed that a house belonging to the Magareng Municipality mayor was damaged after protesters pelted the property with stones.

“Five cases of malicious damage to property were opened. Two houses of local councillors as well as another two houses were pelted with stones. Stones were also thrown at a car,” said Ramatseba.

Community members in Warrenton said that they would appoint a private advocate to represent them in court.

“A child and father were shot in their homes while a girl who was jogging in the street sustained injuries after she was hit by rubber bullets in the leg. We will lay charges for police brutality.”

The police were unable to confirm these complaints.

Ramatseba said that while the situation in Warrenton was calm yesterday, and the roads were open to traffic, the SAPS Public Order Police were currently monitoring the situation.

“We are appealing to protesting residents not to barricade the roads and damage properties,” he added.

Community members did not want to entertain Premier Zamani Saul when he arrived to address them at 1pm yesterday, to respond to their memorandum of grievances. They demanded that the suspects who were arrested on charges of public violence first be released.

Office of the Premier spokesperson Bronwyn Thomas-Abrahams indicated that the meeting with the community could not proceed yesterday.

“Community members were of the view that the protesters who were arrested on Monday needed to be part of the engagement. The premier encouraged the people present to proceed with the meeting, but they were adamant that the release of the detained people be resolved before any engagements can be embarked upon,” said Thomas-Abrahams.

“Premier Saul has indicated his willingness to still meet with the community or concerned residents in an effort to find viable solutions to the concerns contained in the memorandum.”

Meanwhile, protesting residents from Rhythm City, who are occupying land belonging to the Kimberley Lions Club, are demanding that the Sol Plaatje Municipality purchase the land to enable them to permanently live there.

They said that the police opened fire on them yesterday while they were staging a “peaceful protest”.

Despite an eviction order, the residents are refusing to vacate the land.

They also want communal water taps to be installed in the informal settlement. They indicated that they were currently collecting water from the West End Cemetery.

A Rhythm City community representative, Kagiso Aries, said that residents did not want to be relocated to Lethabo Park in Roodepan as it was situated far from their children’s schools and places that they frequent.

“A lot of people living here are unemployed and do not have money for transport. If we move to Roodepan, other people will be quick to occupy the land here. We are the ones who first moved here and are happy – we will not be going anywhere.”

Aries said that nine people were arrested during protest action yesterday.

He added that although there were around 630 shacks erected on the land, there were only about 230 people occupying the site.

“More than half of the shacks are empty and are being used as drug dens or by criminals. Residents pay a monthly levy of between R30 to R40 for the neighbourhood watch to patrol the area and prevent crime. The municipality said that we can’t demolish these empty shacks. People came to build them without permission and then left the area. We don’t know who these people are.”

The chairperson of human settlements at Sol Plaatje Municipality, Ronnie Morwe, explained that the local authority could not intervene as it was privately owned land that had been invaded.

“As a humanitarian gesture we offered alternative land for them at Lethabo Park in Roodepan, where they can become landowners. However, as they are refusing, there is not much more that the municipality can do,” said Morwe.

He added that they had convened regular meetings with community representatives from Rhythm City and were not given any notice of protest action.

“A meeting will be arranged next week with the community and will be attended by myself, the director of infrastructure, Boy Dhlwayo, to discuss requests for the provision of additional portable toilets and communal taps.”

Morwe advised the community to stop occupying land illegally and to follow the correct procedures.

“We have a land plan and advocate an open-door policy. The community is invited to approach our offices with any housing or service delivery needs.”