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Bela-Bela mayor's car petrol bombed during protest

By Faeza
07 February 2017

Disgruntled residents of Bela-Bela, in Limpopo, petrol bombed the mayor's personal car after accusing the municipality of withholding a corruption report and implementing an unsanctioned electricity fee.

Speaking to News24, the founder of non-governmental organisation Change for Bela-Bela, Nicolaas van Heerden, said Mayor Jeremiah Ngobeni had attempted to speak to the enraged residents before his car was petrol bombed.

"He came to address the community and got out of his car. The people shouted at him and he ran to a police Nyala. They then petrol bombed his vehicle."

A police spokesperson on the ground could not confirm details of the protest, and said police were still trying to contain protesters.

Van Heerden said the protests were nothing new.

He said residents were asked to pay a basic electricity fee of R466 per month, which was difficult for those with low incomes.

He said the fee was in addition to an ordinary electricity bill.

Top officials implicated

Van Heerden said residents also wanted a KPMG forensic audit report into alleged corruption and maladministration to be released to the public.

"The community has reached a point where enough is enough. The report implicates the municipal manager and many of his HODs."

Speaking on the additional electricity fee, he said: "The municipality has flouted regulation by implementing a basic fee on electricity. Anybody that has a 60 amp breaker in their home, which is normal, now needs to pay the municipality R466 basic fee every month."

Van Heerden said the report, which was commissioned early in 2016, had yet to be fully released because of "delay tactics".

He added that councillors had only seen a redacted version of the report.

Van Heerden said that energy regulator Nersa and the Treasury were unaware of the electricity fee.

"The community says they cannot afford to pay this fee and it is making them even poorer than they are at the moment."

Despite numerous attempts by News24, Ngobeni could not be reached for comment.

Source: News24