Home News Situation ‘calmer’ in the Phokwane municipal area following protests

Situation ‘calmer’ in the Phokwane municipal area following protests

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Vehicles and trucks had been pelted with stones on the N18 while roads leading into Valspan were barricaded on Tuesday evening.

Community members are demanding an audience with Northern Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul. Picture: Soraya Crowie

FOLLOWING threats of continued protest action in Jan Kempdorp, the situation in the Phokwane municipal district was reported to be calmer on Wednesday.

Community members are demanding an audience with Northern Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul over service delivery issues.

Residents in the area said that schools had been advised to remain closed for the past few days, while the clinic in Valspan was also shut on Wednesday.

Vehicles and trucks were pelted with stones on the N18 while roads leading into Valspan were barricaded on Tuesday evening. The protesters were demanding the release of suspects arrested in connection with earlier protest action.

Residents indicated that the protests died down after 7.30pm on Tuesday evening, after the police had fired rubber bullets to disperse the protesters.

“Motorists did not experience any problems travelling through the area on Wednesday as most of the roads were cleared,” said the residents.

Northern Cape police spokesperson Captain Sergio Kock said that the police were still monitoring the situation closely, although the protests had dwindled over the past two days.

He said that a 35-year-old man who was arrested on Monday, May 31 on charges of public violence was expected to appear in the Jan Kempdorp Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, June 2. “The investigation continues.”

In a letter addressed to the premier on June 1, the Valspan Communal Interests Group expressed its frustration at Saul’s apparent reluctance to visit the area.

“This is another letter to you after numerous attempts to have your physical audience as the accounting officer of the provincial government and as the premier.”

It was indicated that the community would no longer tolerate being “disrespected”.

“We demand the premier’s immediate physical audience and engagement with the community, as previously requested. We will not tolerate any further contempt from your office or any provincial department office through illogical and uncommunicative responses.

“As a community we’ve been patient enough with your office, bearing in mind the possible flooded schedule you might be experiencing.

“After granting you such courtesy, we feel the patience of the community has been tested. We’ve observed your official engagements in the past couple of weeks throughout the Province, yet we are still in wonder as to whether you are willing to prioritise us within your official engagements, let alone even respond to our communications to you.”

The group added that the community had resorted to protest action as they were not satisfied with the response from provincial government to their memorandum of grievances.

“After careful analysis of this ‘consolidated response’ we couldn’t feel anything but further disrespect from the provincial government. Not only does the response sound thumb-sucked, but it also lacks any practical realities of the issues it was attempting to respond to.

“Furthermore, we feel that this proves our claim that the provincial government takes us for granted, has no regard for our well-being, disrespects us and deliberately causes all problems within our community.”

Saul has meanwhile noted, “with serious concern”, threats of violence made by community members in Jan Kempdorp after protest action started on Monday morning.

However, his office did not indicate whether he would agree to meet with the community.

The spokesperson for the Office of the Premier, Bronwyn Thomas-Abrahams, said that Saul had mandated the Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta) to address the concerns of the community.

“The mandate of Coghsta includes issues of local government and service delivery. A team has visited the community to address their concerns,” said Thomas-Abrahams.

She also extended a plea to the community to refrain from any form of violence, intimidation, disruption of services, disruption of traffic flow and damage to property.

“Government must be given sufficient time and safety to deal with the concerns of the community.

“It needs to be mentioned that the majority of the issues raised cannot be resolved in a short period of time.”

She urged the community to work with the task team established to look specifically at the service delivery issues in the Phokwane municipal area.