The angry protesters have accused the local municipality of not addressing issues that will apparently disadvantage community members when Orion Minerals starts its mining operations
PRIESKA community members have vowed to continue with protest action until the Siyathemba Municipality has addressed their grievances regarding mining activities by Orion Minerals.
Angry protesters had accused the local municipality of not addressing issues that will apparently disadvantage community members when Orion Minerals starts its mining operations.
Protesters once again closed the road to Copperton during the early hours of Monday morning – the third day of protest action.
The town was “shut down” last Thursday after protesters barricaded all roads leading into the town.
The municipal offices were also closed, however, the protesters did force municipal employees to allow residents to purchase electricity.
“We do not want our people to suffer and understand that they may be in need of electricity to conduct their daily chores. We have also decided not to shut the entire town and businesses were allowed to operate as we are aware that schools have reopened and social grants will be paid out this week. The municipality can, however, only sell electricity and no other payments or operations are allowed,” the protesters said on Monday.
They said that the outcome of a scheduled council meeting will determine when the municipality will be allowed to operate as normal again.
“We had a meeting with the municipal manager (MM), the chief financial officer CFO) and the technical manager of the municipality in an attempt to address the issues raised, as well as about the statement that the municipality released in response to the protest of last week.
“The mayor was not part of that meeting as we were informed that she is in quarantine.
“Many of the councillors indicated to us that they were not aware of the response from the municipality relating to the protest, although the statement indicated that the councillors supported the points raised in the statement. Many of them indicated that they do not support the released statement from the municipality.
“The police were part of the meeting and they indicated that we should rather discuss a way forward instead of focussing on the statement.
“The MM promised us that they will call a council meeting tomorrow, May 4, where they will discuss our grievances. The outcome of that meeting will determine the way forward. We will, however, still keep the Copperton road closed and continue with protest action tomorrow while they are deliberating.”
A group of angry protesters also headed to the municipal manager’s house and threatened to burn it down, but the police intervened.
Police spokesperson Captain Sergio Kock said that nobody had been arrested.
“The police gave attention to two groups of protesters in Prieska. One group closed the Copperton road and another group was protesting in front of the municipal offices. No injuries or arrests have been reported at this stage. The police will continue to monitor the situation,” said Kock.
The municipal manager failed to respond to media enquiries by the time of publication.