Ermelo: More than 10 violent protests and counting

2013-05-09 13:45

Protesters in Ermelo, Mpumalanga, burnt municipal offices and stole four computers when they went on the rampage yet again.

The irritable residents protested to raise concerns about a lack of water, electricity outages, alleged nepotism in the Msukaligwa Local Municipality and unemployment.

Since 2011, residents in this town have staged more than 10 violent service-delivery protests trying to force authorities to take note of their plight. The area has become unstable, with unemployed youth having burnt vehicles belonging to mines and other private companies in the area.

Msukaligwa municipal spokesperson Mandla Zwane said yesterday the municipality was busy laying charges at the local police station.

“Our offices in Wesselton township could be completely burnt down if it was not the swift response from our fire fighters. Four computers were stolen and another three were damaged,” said Zwane.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Sergeant Gerald Sedibe said no arrest had been made.

“School children were forced out of school to take part in the protest and shops belonging to foreign nationals were damaged, but not looted,” said Sedibe.

The Msukaligwa municipality has been struggling with supplying water since October last year after two dams dried up.

After the intervention of the department of water affairs and provincial government, a pipeline construction to connect the town and its township to another dam was started a few month ago. The pipeline is five kilometres into completion.

Presently, water is being trucked into the community, but residents have been complaining that drivers did not deliver at all in other areas, forcing residents to collect water from wells dug up in wetlands.

Community member Dumisani Mahaye said the municipality has been ignoring complaints.

“Each time we protest they, dismiss us as criminals, in the media. They don’t want to meet and talk to us,” said Mahaye.

The Ermelo Business Association has been calling for the municipality to be placed under administration.

Eskom has threatened to cut off the municipality’s power, because it owes the power utility R65 million, while the Auditor-General’s 2011/12 report hit Msukaligwa with a disclaimer after finding that R292 million could not be accounted for.

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