Vigilantes roam Richmond

2013-08-21 00:00

TENSIONS in Richmond are continuing as a vigilante group calling themselves “Marikana” roam the streets at night, terrorising their victims.

Attacks on Richmond councillors have now spilled over to the speaker’s bodyguard, whose house was torched by a group of unknown men in the Ndaleni township in Richmond on Monday night.

Sazini Ngcobo, who was not at home when the attackers allegedly threw petrol bombs into his house, said he was attending a meeting at the Agricultural Hall in Richmond with the leadership of the ANC in the region.

While there he received news that his home was ablaze.

“I told those at the meeting and we all rushed to the house,” said Ngcobo.

Damage to the house was estimated at R100 000 as all his furniture and some of the building was destroyed in the blaze.

His sons Sabatha (23) and Siyabonga (18), who were asleep in the house, told The Witness they were awoken by the flaming petrol bomb thrown through their bedroom window.

“There was a loud noise outside the house as people were throwing stones at all the rooms in the house.

“We ran to the other room, but it was also on fire as another bottle had been thrown in there. We ran to the back door and ran for our lives,” said Siyabonga, who was still in shock yesterday.

Sabatha said they did not attend school yesterday as they were left with only the clothes they were wearing.

“We had no chance to save our belongings as we were only thinking about saving our lives.”

A neighbour who asked not to be named, said they heard whistles and vuvuzela blasts from the group of people that call themselves Marikana.

“They are a vigilante group that go around and intimidate and assault people in the area. Their victims don’t open cases as they are scared of them,” said the neighbour.

Richmond Mayor Andrew Ragavaloo said they had improved security for the councillors after they received a threat analysis from the police.

“This is despicable that they are now attacking people who are not politicians as the bodyguard is just a member of the staff in the municipality.

“About 30 gunshots were fired in the neighbourhood of my home and we don’t know why they are doing this,” said Ragavaloo.

He added that they don’t know these people and what they really want from the council.

“All our municipal programmes like izimbizo and IDP will be put on hold until this is resolved,” said Ragavaloo.

He said they know of the Marikana group, but don’t know who its members are.

According to police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan, on Monday police arrested three men, between the ages of 30 and 46, for the malicious damage to the speaker Thulani Shabalala’s property in the early hours of Friday morning. The arrested suspects will appear in the Richmond Magistrate’s Court shortly.

She said they are also investigating arson following the attack at Ngcobo’s house.

• mlondi.radebe@witness.co.za

SENIOR ANC leaders described the resurgence of violence in Richmond as the work of “criminal elements”.

“There is no way a sane person would link up taxi problems to shooting of the mayor or the lack of service delivery to the burning of the councillor’s house. All this has the hallmarks of criminal behaviour, not issues of service delivery,” said Alpha Shelembe, chairperson of the ANC’s Moses Mabhida region.

On Monday night, the ANC held a meeting to discuss the violence in the area. Over the past weeks, the area has seen violent protests over the increase of taxi fares, the shooting at the Mayor Andrew Ragavaloo’s house and recently, the burning of the municipal speaker’s car.

“What is happening there is now a criminal matter that should be reported to the police.

“If there are genuine issues of service delivery, the people should blockade a public road and not attack the councillor’s property.

“We want our councillors to keep the in touch with the community on issues of service delivery,” said Shelembe.

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