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Warrenton residents ‘shut down’ town

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The community also raised concerns regarding various funds allocated to the municipality for local projects and an additional high school

THE OFFICES of the Magareng Local Municipality in Warrenton remain closed following a total shutdown of the town by fed-up community members who barricaded the N12 last week.

The protest action, which the residents have dubbed the ‘Warrenton Total Shutdown’, is due to a long list of service delivery complaints and the community’s unhappiness regarding the response to a memorandum they handed over at the end of January.

According to the residents, last week’s protest action was triggered by an unsatisfactory response from Transnet and the “total arrogance” of the Magareng Municipality following their peaceful march on January 29.

Last week’s protest action saw 28 people being arrested for public violence.

While Northern Cape Premier Zamani Saul travelled to the town to address the protesters on Thursday last week, he was prevented from doing so.

The community had complained about poor service delivery and a “lack of commitment” from the municipality and Transnet to improve the lives of the people of Warrenton.

A spokesperson for the community, Themba Mgwevu, said that there had been no reaction from Transnet in terms of giving back to the community.

The memorandum demanded that Transnet prioritise Warrenton residents in terms of jobs and to also “adopt” local schools.

The demands to the municipality included the dissolution of the the Magareng council and the removal of the the municipal manager and that the appointment of the chief financial officer be investigated.

The community also raised concerns regarding various funds allocated to the municipality for local projects and an additional high school.

They demanded a detailed report on all incomplete projects, namely Agripark, the peanuts and oil factory, roads in the Chris Hani section and the fixing of street lights in Ikhutseng.

While the residents have since held successful engagements with Transnet, which led to the suspension of the closure of the N12, they stated yesterday that they had received little satisfaction from the municipality and that they would keep the municipal offices closed.

“Although we are still waiting to get a drafted contract in black and white from Transnet, we have had successful engagements and their delegation has addressed the community to pledge its support.

“We have, however, not received any response from the Magareng Municipality. That is why the municipal offices will remain closed until the premier provides the residents with a satisfactory response,” said Mgwevu.

He said the community was working with the police to organise for the premier to address them.

“The premier was here on Thursday but his timing was wrong because we were in court to support those arrested during the protests. We wanted them to be a part of all the meetings we engaged in.

“We want all charges against them dropped because they were unlawfully arrested.”

The Office of the Premier confirmed on the Northern Cape provincial government’s Facebook page that the planned meeting with the premier did not proceed because community members were of the view that the protesters who were arrested needed to be part of the engagements.

“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 could be embarked upon,” read the post.

“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.”