"The mayor can get from point A to B in any vehicle. Why did he have to spend so much when we are living like animals"
PROTESTERS have directed their anger relating to service delivery issues at Sol Plaatje executive mayor Mangaliso Matika, who they lambasted for the extravagant spending of R1 million to purchase his mayoral car.
They criticised the mayor for “riding the gravy train”. “He is guzzling public money, that is why his stomach is getting so big.”
More protests flared up in Colville, Roodepan and Floors yesterday morning, where residents have “declared war” on “non-existent” service delivery and the fact that their complaints are “falling on deaf ears”.
Residents from Colville and Floors insisted that they would continue to burn tyres and blockade roads.
“We also want some of that money that was spent on that (mayoral) car. The mayor can get from point A to B in any vehicle. Why did he have to spend so much when we are living like animals, without basic amenities or flush toilets? They think nothing of us.”
A delegation of Sol Plaatje municipal officials were escorted out of Roodepan in an SAPS Nyala after protesters refused to be addressed by them.
They chanted for Matika to pay them a visit in person. “We want to see him now. He must resign because he is never available to listen to our concerns.
“We don’t worry about the economy suffering due to protest action because we have never benefited from it.”
Police officers who tried to intervene, told the protesters that they could not force Matika to speak to the community.
They also advised residents that they had destroyed state property including roads, the cemetery and the barrier on the road leading into Roodepan.
The police offered to transport the protesters to Matika’s office, although they declined as they believed that they would be arrested if they climbed into a police van.
Protesters in Roodepan also complained that they were shot at without due cause by the police. “We are peaceful and are not doing anything wrong. We have a constitutional right to houses and basic services.”
The delegation from the municipality received a slightly warmer welcome in Colville and Floors, where they promised to look into service delivery problems.
Residents residing in Omega Street, Colville and in Recreation Road complained about a stormwater canal that was overgrown with foliage.
“We throw faeces into the canal because we have no toilets. Our shanties are flooded when it rains and we found Cape cobra snakes here,” two residents, Sandy Pearce and Sandra Booysen, added.
Schooling was again disrupted yesterday, while deliveries could not be made to businesses, where in some cases shops ran of out basic foodstuffs including bread and milk.
Motorists and taxis were once again unable to access roads that were blocked, while many arrived late to work due to closed roads and congested traffic.
The manager in the Office of the Mayor, George Mosimane, warned the Roodepan protesters that should they ignore the invitation to negotiate at the council offices tomorrow, the eviction order would immediately come into effect.
“We are under no obligation to offer assistance. We have bent over backwards to accommodate them. The police will deal with incidents of lawlessness. The mayor is not in town and even if he was here, he has a duty to delegate. A high-level delegation consisting of four chairpersons of committees met with the affected communities yesterday,” said Mosimane.
He pointed out that the evicted persons of Thutlo Street in Galeshewe had met with them on Monday.
“The Roodepan people are making excuses. Not one of these individuals who set foot in our offices were arrested. We will meet again on Thursday (tomorrow).”
Mosimane added that the mayoral car was a “non-issue”.
“The car was budgeted for and it is not Matika’s car – it is the mayoral vehicle. It is easy to make accusations based on misinformation.”
He stated that it cost council R60 000 ever time the old mayoral car was sent to the workshop for repairs.
“The expenses include daily car hire and workshop repairs that take up to four weeks. There has been a struggle to source parts for the car, as it is 10 years old. As a political head, the mayor is entitled to prioritising his safety on the road. No MEC drives a car for longer than two years before it is replaced.”
Spokesperson for the Department of Education, Geoffrey van der Merwe, said that seven schools in the Roodepan, Colville and Floors areas were affected by the ongoing protests that started on Monday.
“Education was brought to a standstill as educators and learners were struggling to access schools.
“Our district office has contingency plans in place and the recovery plans will immediately be implemented when schooling returns back to normal,” Van der Merwe added. “At this stage, valuable learning and teaching time is lost and we will continue to monitor the situation as the safety of learners and educators are our first priority.
“We appeal to parents to use their own discretion and assess whether it is safe to send their children to school.”