Residents burn councillor’s house, car

2013-06-25 16:41

Residents of Wesselton township near Ermelo have burnt a councillor’s house and a car in retaliation against the municipality for unleashing the Red Ants to remove them from invaded land.

An Msukaligwa municipality employee has also crashed a state vehicle while trying to escape from the protesting crowd, which wanted to attack him.

Community members have been building shacks and allocating themselves stands on the municipality’s land without permission for some time.

They say they are tired of waiting after being on lists for RDP houses for years. The houses end up being allocated to individuals connected to municipal employees, they allege.

Msukaligwa spokesperson Mandla Zwane said today that the situation was getting out of hand. Zwane said the municipality had received information that the residents wanted to torch more councillors’ houses.

“We procured the services of the Red Ants to stop the illegal invasion of land that has been going on. They’ve been destroying shacks and removing fences since Wednesday and that has infuriated the invaders,” said Zwane.

“It has come to our attention that they’re targeting more councillors’ houses.”

The burnt house belongs to councillor Mavela Mhlanga. His Hyundai sedan was also torched.

One of the invaders, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “The government is preoccupied with petty issues like changing town and street names. Who cares? People need land and houses.”

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Colonel Leonard Hlathi said he was locked in a meeting and could not immediately comment.

The Wesselton unrest follows service-delivery protests that erupted 100km away in Kwazamokuhle township near Hendrina on Sunday.

Kwazamokuhle residents snapped after Steve Tshwete Mayor Mike Masina allegedly remarked that they were “uncivilised” and “illiterate” during a meeting.

According to DA councillor Thokozani Ndlangamandla, Masina also said the residents’ memorandum of grievances was written in “broken English”.

The residents have damaged Masina’s official vehicle, a clinic, library, police station and community hall.

They met Masinga to raise concerns about a lack of jobs, the employment of “outsiders”, upgrading of the local clinic, slow delivery of RDP houses and the police station that is not operating for 24 hours a day.

Steve Tshwete municipal manager Willie Fouche said the accusations against Masina were “rubbish”.

“There was no reason for the mayor to stoop so low. We’ve done so many outreach programmes before under very difficult circumstances,” said Fouche.

He said that the residents’ concerns had nothing to do with municipal services as the municipality had been pumping money into Kwazamokuhle township and had built roads, a clinic and a community hall with internet connection.

“Kwazamokuhle has been upgraded to the same level as most rural townships in the country. We’ve built more than 800 RDP houses and have a budget to build on more stands. So, municipal services can’t be an issue and we think there are people with personal agendas,” added Fouche.

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