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Protests flare up again

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VIOLENT protests flared up in the city yesterday - with protesters barricading streets and setting fire to a building and a truck - and community members have threatened to intensify their actions this morning.

VIOLENT protests flared up in the city yesterday – with protesters barricading streets and setting fire to a building and a truck – and community members have threatened to intensify their actions this morning.

Motorists were warned to avoid the R31 to Barkly West after a truck was set alight yesterday afternoon, while a case of arson was also opened following attempts to torch the Galeshewe Library.

According to eyewitnesses on the road leading to Barkly West yesterday afternoon, protesters attempted to torch a truck carrying bales of cotton. While it is believed that the driver of the vehicle managed to escape unscathed, traffic on the road, near the Phutanang turn-off, was severely restricted while officials cleared debris from the road.

“They (the protesters) managed to set the cotton on the back of the truck alight but the vehicle wasn’t too badly damaged,” the eyewitnesses said on the scene. “The driver noticed that his load was smouldering and managed to escape in time.

“They were burning tyres near the Phutanang turn-off and someone tried to set the vehicle alight near the intersection. Luckily for the driver, police were already on the scene and were able to get the burning cotton off the truck before it spread out of control.

“It doesn’t seem like anyone was hurt,” they added.

Along several major roads in Galeshewe, including Nobengula and John Daka streets, barricades comprising of tree branches, bricks and rocks caused further traffic disruptions, while burning tyres saw plumes of smoke rising over the township throughout the day.

Spokesperson for Sol Plaatje Municipality, Sello Matsie, also confirmed that a case of arson had been opened following attempts to burn down the Galeshewe Library.

Ahead of a meeting with protest organisers, debris littered the streets of Galeshewe yesterday afternoon, allowing very few vehicles access to the main traffic circle where a large contingent of police officials from various provinces, along with hundreds of residents, were on the scene.

Similar situations were also reported in Roodepan and Colville.

Spokesperson for Wanya Tsotsi, Phansi Obusitse, said yesterday that the protest action was likely to continue today and would only conclude once the community was satisfied that their grievances had been resolved.

“Apart from an attempt to set the Galeshewe Library alight I’m not aware of any major incidents that have been linked to the protest,” Obusitse said late yesterday afternoon.

“Greenpoint was quiet because the community has called for a meeting to update them on the situation before taking further action.

“The organisers are meeting the community at the circle in Galeshewe to give them feedback on the latest developments, but judging by the mood on the ground the protest is going to continue this week and until the matter has been resolved.

Meanwhile, spokesperson for the SAPS, Colonel Mashay Gamieldien, confirmed that two cases of arson were being investigated

“A truck was pelted with stones while unknown persons set the cargo alight,” Gamieldien said. “The driver was able to escape unharmed and the truck was not damaged in the process.

“No arrests have been made yet and the police are investigating whether it is related to the ongoing protest actions.

“Regarding the fire at the library, the fire was set outside the building causing the veld outside to burn. The building was not damaged and the police are investigating the cause of the fire.