Protesters bring Matat to a halt

2017-09-08 06:00
Burning drums and tyres in the street of Mataiele.Photo: supplied

Burning drums and tyres in the street of Mataiele.Photo: supplied

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ANGRY community members brought the small town of Matatiele to a standstill when they protested for tar roads on Tuesday.
Ten people were arrested for public violence.

The protest started on Friday with the burning of tyres in the rural villages of Makhoba, Sibi, Mafube and Mzongwana.
On Tuesday morning protesters burnt tyres on the R56 outside Matatiele and when police arrived to disperse them, they ran into town and burnt tyres there.
Shops, businesses and government offices had to close as police fired rubber bullets and chased them from town.

Police spokesperson Raphael Motloung confirmed that a police van was damaged during the protest.
He said police will be visible in Matatiele until the situation is calm.

The South African National Defence Force also patrolled in some streets.

The protest action was organised by the Route 56 Matatiele Forum, which is made up of residents.
The forum wants all border route roads between Matatiele and Lesotho to be tarred.
Nhlahla Dhlamini Ntsoti, the forum chairperson said Matatiele has never been taken seriously by government.
“It is more than 20 years of living in a democratic country, but Matatiele people live in poor conditions. We don’t want government to spend money on gravelling our roads, they must be tarred,” said Ntsoti.

Ntsoti told Fever that the poor state of the roads in Matatiele need to be addressed urgently.
On Tuesday afternoon, Matatiele Local Municipality Mayor, Momelezi Mbedla met angry protesters and promised to improve some roads.

He said the community’s demands have been escalated to the office of the Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masuale­ and to the MEC of Roads and Public Works, Thandiswa Marawu.

“The MEC and Premier will come to Matatiele to hear the demands of the people next Tuesday,” said Mbedla.
He appealed to protesters to end their action and to allow negotiations to take place.

Schools have been disrupted because of the protest.
The community were not granted permission by the municipality to protest­ and SAPS asked people to follow­ legal processes before protesting.
At a time of going to press, no injuries had been reported.
The Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masuale and MECs went to Matatiele­ yesterday to respond to the many grievances of the Matatiele people­.


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