Mchunu asked to intervene

2014-12-06 00:00

HELP us, Mr Premier.

That’s the plea from Richmond businesses and residents who say their town is being held to ­ransom by power hungry protesters “hell-bent” on creating chaos.

Richmond businesses have suffered the brunt of the protests this week with many of them ­remaining closed in fear of more violence. Taxis have been boycotted too, making it difficult for consumers from surrounding townships to enter the town.

Numerous townsfolk yesterday called on KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu to come to Richmond and sort out their internal politics so the town could get back to normal.

A salon owner, who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation, said they had to close their shop during the week but had opened yesterday, “staying vigilant and careful”.

Residents in the surrounding farms have also been affected. One resident, who asked not to be named, said the barricaded roads prevented her from seeking medical attention in the town. She alleged that only 16 policemen were on duty on Thursday night when five main access roads into the town were blocked.

SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) ­members have turned the town into something resembling a war zone. Yesterday morning, the mob faced off with police once again, resulting in police using rubber bullets and teargas.

However, according to sources, members of the mob have allegedly been barging into people’s homes at Ndaleni and holding knives and guns to their heads, demanding that they join the ­protest.

Violence monitor Mary de Haas said “It is part of a protest culture that is not very organised. Such things were rife in the 80s”.

Worried ANC Richmond mayor Andrew Ragavaloo alleges that the protests are as a result of a criminal element that is hell-bent on burning Richmond to the ground.

“The violence in the 90s started the same way. I have developed a thick skin but I am afraid for the lives of my family,” a concerned Ragavaloo said.

“I didn’t sleep last night [Thursday night]. Almost every hour, I was receiving calls about blockages and disruptions,” said Ragavaloo.

“We believe in a peaceful manner of protesting, but the ones now are from criminal elements, hell-bent provocateurs who want to bring Richmond to the ground.”

De Haas added that historically the ANC ­government of Richmond has been divided and Sanco is in fact an ally of the ANC, which could indicate that the protests could be a result of ANC infighting.

“The fact that the protesters are targeting ­specific councillors means that this may well be linked to the struggle dynamic in terms of the upcoming elections … [Sanco] could be jostling for positions in the local government,” De Haas added.

A Richmond councillor, who asked not to be named, said during the 2011 elections many Sanco members supported the councillors they want removed now, allegedly because those councillors promised to get them government jobs once they were in.

“Because they didn’t fulfil their promises, they want them out.

“My main concern is that the ANC knows the problem but why don’t the ANC do anything about it?” the councillor added.

Cogta spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said Richmond had been given a clean bill of health by the auditor-general and the report reflected that there had been a decrease in irregular expenditure.

“… During our investigation we found some of the issues raised were political and those issues should be taken up by the relevant political ­parties,” Mabaso said.

Ndabe Sibiya, of the ANC, said the premier took the issues of service delivery very seriously and had appointed advocate Linda Zama to advise him on service delivery matters there.

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