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Residents refuse to call off protest

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Rubber bullets were fired after community members pelted passing vehicles with stones on the R31

PROTESTING: Police officers are seen here clearing the R31 towards Postmansburg after protesters from Longlands closed the intersection. Community members insisted that their protest action would continue until the municipality was fully functional. Picture: Soraya Crowie

COMMUNITY members in the Dikgatlong Municipality are refusing to call off their protest action until the chief financial officer (CFO) and the mayor are both removed with immediate effect.

Traffic was backed up for a few kilometres on the road between Barkly West and Postmasburg yesterday due to protest action in Barkly West and Longlands.

Rubber bullets were fired after community members pelted passing vehicles with stones on the R31.

Mining trucks and cars had to navigate their way through rocks and burning tyres that were scattered across the road as well as in residential areas in and around Mataleng, De Beershoogte and Longlands.

Local children, who also took part in the protests yesterday, indicated that they would not be attending school when the fourth term starts today.

A meeting was held by Premier Sylvia Lucas and the MEC for Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, Bentley Vass, yesterday afternoon in an attempt to pacify the community.

The community indicated that they were not entirely satisfied with the outcome of the meeting.

“The premier and MEC promised to come back on Thursday. Our demands include the immediate suspension of the CFO pending an investigation into serious financial misconduct.

“The mayor must be investigated and removed and an allocation must be made available for basic services in the informal settlements.”

Community members insisted that their protest action would continue until the municipality was fully functional.

“No one seems to care about our problems. We were shot at by the police at close range, in our yards. What they are doing is not right, we were peaceful.”

Residents in Longlands added that they were frustrated by the lack of water, the overflowing sewage and the clinic that only operated once a week.

“Temporary attempts are being made to unblock the sewage with a honey sucker but before long the raw sewage is forming a pool around our houses. Our water only comes on for a few hours per day while in high-lying areas it is a constant struggle. By the time we try to fill buckets, the water is already off.”

They also complained of being shot at with rubber bullets by the police.

Police spokesperson, Captain Olebogeng Tawana, said that the Public Order Police were continuing to monitor the situation.

“Motorists were pelted with stones and as a result of that there were damages,” said Tawana.

He indicated that apart from a driver who was injured when his truck was hit by a stone, no injuries were reported.

The spokesperson for the Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, Xhanti Teki, said that MEC Vass remains steadfast in ensuring that municipalities were executing their functions and duties.