Zamdela quiet after protest

2013-04-10 16:00
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Sasolburg protests start again

Protests in Zamdela, Sasolburg, have flared up again as residents protest municipal demarcation plans and barricaded roads. See all the pictures.

Johannesburg - The situation was quiet in the Zamdela informal settlement outside Sasolburg, in the Free State, on Wednesday afternoon after a march by residents, police said.

Hundreds of disgruntled residents marched to the municipal buildings to deliver a memorandum demanding that Metsimaholo Mayor Brutus Mahlaku step down within seven days.

Constable Peter Kareli said the protest was peaceful, but police were keeping an eye on the situation.

"Everything went smoothly from the side of the police."

He said there was only one reported incident of damage to property.

"A tuckshop was attacked. They broke three windows. We stopped them. They didn't take anything."

He said no arrests were made.

Public order police would stay at Zamdela until local police were sure everything had returned to normal.

"For now everything is still fine," Kareli said.

Council speaker Sello Matena told the marchers that claims of corruption and wasteful expenditure against members of the council would be investigated.

He and Mahlaku would also be investigated by a committee set up by the council for this purpose.

The residents have accused Matena and Mahlaku of corruption.

Mahlaku allegedly spent R4m on personal security, and Matena allegedly used a council credit card to pay for liquor.

Matena said this was the first he had heard of the allegations against him.

"The investigation will be done. I've not done anything wrong."

He said residents' anger at the cancellation of a Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) meeting was valid.

"That process is run by [the] demarcation board. I'm still waiting for the reason [why it was cancelled]."

The MDB was scheduled to hold a public meeting in Sasolburg at 10:00 on Wednesday to give the community an update on the proposed merger of the Metsimaholo municipality, in Sasolburg, with the Ngwathe municipality, in Parys.

In January, four people were killed, several were injured and hundreds were arrested during violent protests against the proposed merger.

Several cars were set alight and government buildings damaged in Zamdela.

Metsimaholo Concerned Residents' Committee chairman Lucky Malebo was upset about the postponement on Wednesday.

"[The board] got a letter from the premier's office that they had to postpone the meeting," he said.

"This tells us that we cannot even trust the MDB. It is being influenced by [Free State Premier Ace Magashule]."

African National Congress provincial executive committee member Mpho Ramakasta said Magashule should not have interfered.

"Magashule has taken the law unto himself. He must stop interfering."

He said the independence of statutory bodies needed to be respected.

"We all want this process to be open, fair and transparent. Our advice to those interfering is to back off."

Read more on:    bloemfontein  |  protests  |  local government

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