Protesters close France

2016-05-11 12:00
Police disperse protesters after they blocked the Richmond road.

Police disperse protesters after they blocked the Richmond road. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - France settlement erupted in chaos in the early hours of on Tuesday morning when ANC members outraged by the nomination of the party’s candidate in ward 18, blocked the R56 (the Richmond road).

Other roads inside the settlement were also blocked with rocks, burning tyres, poles and wood, making it difficult for motorists to enter or exit the settlement.

The protest is expected to continue today since Msunduzi Mayor Chris Ndlela did not arrive to address the protesters, as they had hoped.

“The strike will continue and the R56 will be closed. No one will be able to commute until we are heard,” one of the protesters said last night.

Yesterday, pupils who had managed to sneak into schools were sent home later amid a false alarm that the protesters were going to burn down the schools.

More than once, police had to use rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the angry crowd.

While police were chasing the protesters down the paths and through bush in the settlement, motorists had to clear the road themselves to escape from the stalemate which had lasted for at least three hours.

The protesters demanded that current councillor Sindisiwe Gwala be removed from the party’s list of candidates for the 2016 local government elections.

Gwala is standing for a second term, but protesters said in her first term there had been no service delivery and accused her of neglecting France.

Gwala, who declined to comment on the matter, was accused of only prioritising services to Imbali Unit 14, where she is from.

The protesters alleged that since Gwala came into power, she had not been to France once, adding that she had snubbed a number of meetings they had invited her to. “She is unapproachable,” said a protester who did not want to be named, adding that the ANC region had colluded with Gwala to get her name on the list.

“We had made it clear that we do not want her and her name was not on the list that was submitted to the region, which had only two names,” said the protester.

Regional secretary Mzi Zuma dismissed the allegations, describing them as far fetched.

He said the party’s processes were still under way and the names still had to be screened by the provincial executive committee and then later be submitted to national office.

The protesters however threatened to vote for “upcoming” political parties if the ANC continues to “feed” them Gwala.

“We know the ANC as the people’s organisation. If it is still the people’s organisation, they will humble themselves and come back to the community. If they have turned the organisation to some kangaroo [court], well, they will not come back to the people,” said one of the protesters.

Protesters believed that Mayor Chris Ndlela was to visit them there yesterday, however at the time of going to press, he had not yet arrived.

Police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said police had arrested one protester for public violence.

“At the moment the situation is calm. Police will continue to monitor the situation,” he said.

The protesters also complained about not having had water for weeks.

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said the reservoir supplying the area had run dry.

“We have acquired five more water tankers to beef up supplies to Imbali and Edendale,” she said.

• sabelo.nsele@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  protest

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