Criminal elements blamed for looting at Balfour protest

2010-02-09 14:45

Criminals, and not legitimate protesters, were responsible for the

looting and torching of property during the protests in Balfour, a man

identifying himself as a community leader said today.

“We have put the protests on hold. Part of what is happening is

that we have been overtaken by criminal elements, these are the same people who

are looting shops,” said Zakhele Maya, leader of a group called Dipaleseng,

formed to voice concerns over the local Burnstone Mine’s employment and

development policies.

This comes after foreigners’ shops were looted and their properties

and a municipal building set alight on Sunday and yesterday.

Twenty-two people were due to appear in the Balfour Magistrate’s

Court to be charged with public violence as about 60 policemen patrolled the

township, whose main entrance was blocked with burning logs.

Maya said the criminals were taking the focus off the main issue –

that the mine was allegedly not keeping its promise to hire half its workforce

from the local community.

He accused foreign shopkeepers of having a hand in the


He said before the protests started, they met the shopkeepers and

told them of their intention to protest at the mine, and expressed concerns

that, in previous uprisings, criminals had taken advantage to loot.

Maya explained that they asked the foreigners to remove cash and

merchandise from their shops for their own safety, and had even helped them do


However, during the protests, criminals moved in and the

shopkeepers then turned on the protesters.

He said it was not possible to identify the criminals as they

targeted the shopkeepers in the early hours of the morning and it was difficult

to find them.

The burning of a municipal office yesterday took place during a

“war” between police and others, and the situation was too chaotic to identify

anyone, he said.

The group wants the Burnstone Mine’s licence suspended until their

concerns are addressed, and they plan to resume their protests and march to the

mine when they have been given permission by authorities to do so.

A mine spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.