Malamulele on knife edge as community awaits fate

2015-01-30 14:23

Tension is running high in trouble-torn Malamulele ahead of the release of a report on whether this Limpopo town should get its own municipality or continue to be part of Thohoyandou-based Thulamela local municipality.

The Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) was this morning locked in meetings with Limpopo government officials including Premier Stan Mathabatha, briefing them on the report.

Back in Malamulele, residents gathered amid heavy police presence at the entrance to the town, waiting anxiously for the news from Polokwane where the MDB briefing was held.

With more officers deployed to the area to add to the contingent that has been in Malamulele for three weeks since the protest over the municipality started, police seemed to be in charge today.

Barricades and stop-and-go spots seen in the last weeks, where cars were stopped to ensure that no one leaves Malamulele for work, have been taken over by the police making it possible for anyone to leave and enter the area as they please.

The town has been plunged into a total shutdown since the protest started with only the police station, health facilities and undertakers working. Taxis and buses were also not operating during the week.

With a number of shops already burnt and damaged in the same protest last year, many businesses had obliged and closed doors when it started again three weeks ago.

Children in the area have not gone to school since the reopening earlier this month. It remains to be seen what will happen depending on the news coming from Polokwane.

Police were, however, did not take any chances and used barbed wire around the Malamulele central business district, preventing people from going anywhere near the shops. A police helicopter also hovered above the area, monitoring the situation from a distance.

Police spokesperson Colonel Ronel Otto said police were “prepared for any eventuality”. She said they were patrolling throughout the area while the community awaits news that will decide their fate.

“It is calm but very tense but we’re all over ensuring things do not get out of hand. We’re not sure what to expect later in the day but it will all depend on the news they get but we’re not going to allow any illegal gatherings,” she said.

Community members said there was a meeting planned for tomorrow where their demarcation task team would report back to them on the report and take a decision on their way forward. There were, however, fears that all hell might break loose if the community gets bad news before their leaders get to them.

Those gathered in Malamulele said the only news they were willing to accept was the good news.

While the Malamulele community seemed to think that the report was the ultimate decider to their fate, the demarcation board said today’s meeting in Polokwane was “to provide information regarding the outcome of the study that was conducted by the MDB under the conditions that were outlined to the community”.

“The study sought to determine whether the Malamulele proposal for a stand-alone municipality, separate from Thulamela Municipality, qualifies in terms of the demarcation objectives and criteria set out,” said MDB in a statement this week.

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