Police monitor Vuwani in Limpopo after municipal border protest turns violent

2015-08-31 16:36
Residents of Vuwani, Limpopo, protest in July 2015. Picture: Rudzani Tshikororo/Beeld

Residents of Vuwani, Limpopo, protest in July 2015. Picture: Rudzani Tshikororo/Beeld

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A violent protest by those against new municipal boundary determinations has once again swept through Vuwani in Limpopo, where the community is demanding the reversal of a decision to include their area in a new municipality that will also include Malamulele.

Police said rubber bullets were used to disperse crowds earlier today. A bar lounge was allegedly torched by protesters.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Elijah Malatji said the road passing through Vuwani from Elim to Malamulele remained barricaded with burning tyres, rocks and tree trunks. He said businesses, including a local shopping centre, were closed and schools had also been affected.

Community spokesperson Arnold Mulaudzi said this was an indefinite protest.

“The community has decided on a total shutdown, which started with a night vigil on Sunday, and we are going to embark on this action until the national government intervenes. We were forced to do this by the demarcation board because they are forging ahead with the decision to include us in the new municipality against our wish,” Mulaudzi said.

“We know the total shutdown is affecting us all [especially] the schoolchildren but we say it is better for us to suffer for six months than the rest of our lives. We will fight this to the bitter end.”

The municipal demarcation board was asked by local government minister Pravin Gordhan to consider the reconfiguration of municipal boundaries. This came at a time when Malamulele was in turmoil. There were violent protests as the communities demanded their own municipality, separate from Thulamela, and complained about poor service delivery.

In making their decision, which saw Malamulele residents’ wish being granted, the board decided to extend the new borders to cover Vuwani, which used to fall under Makhado municipality.

But this triggered resistance from Vuwani communities, who are still fighting while the demarcation board is embarking on finalising the new municipal borders.

Mulaudzi said they were against being part of the new municipality as this would delay service delivery for them.

“We are all right in Makhado and although there are service delivery issues, we don’t want to be part of a new municipality where it will take time to put systems in place before service delivery is rolled out. We have made our case to the demarcation board but they are now seemingly not considering our views,” he said.

Police said it was still tense and roads remained barricaded this afternoon. They were staying in the area there to monitor the situation.

Read more on:    limpopo  |  protest

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