Mpumalanga’s political ‘hostage drama’ that never was

2014-08-12 13:51

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Mpumalanga police have denied reports that Emalahleni’s mayor was held hostage by young protesters at a local radio station yesterday.

Instead, they said, Salome Sithole managed to sneak out unharmed through a back door at Emalahleni FM while protesters demanded to see her.

The protests started last Wednesday in Ackerville township, outside Witbank. They were led by young residents who complained that mining, power generation and smelter companies in the area are not employing them.

The protests continued this morning, but Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brigadier Selvy Mohlala said the youngsters had dispersed peacefully by late morning.

Mohlala insisted there had been no hostage drama at Emalahleni FM, despite local newspaper reports to the contrary.

“The mayor was not held hostage. She was on air and towards the end of the programme community members demanding to see her came to the station. She used a back door and was rescued,” Mohlala said.

The radio station denied reports of a hostage drama.

“The mayor was invited to Emalahleni FM to address the community over the issues of unemployment, skills development and service delivery. However, the interview did not see the end as the unhappy crowd barricaded the entrance and exit of the Hector Way police station, 70m away from the Emalahleni FM studios. By then the mayor had managed to alternatively exit to safety,” the station said.

Earlier yesterday, the protesters had stormed Emalahleni’s council offices after Sithole and representatives from the companies in question did not honour a meeting scheduled for 10am.

A youth representative, who asked not to be named, said: “We approached the mayor to be a mediator between us and the companies, but to our surprise she and her councillors were meeting the company representatives when we decided to force our way into the chamber around lunch time.”

The representative alleged that Sithole “lied” while being interviewed on Emalahleni FM – she claimed the protesters had stormed out of the meeting.

“That’s what angered the youth and they went to the station to ask her why she lied. We were also not happy that she decided to go alone to the radio station to communicate issues discussed in the meeting,” he said.

Emalahleni spokesperson, Lebohang Mofokeng, said Sithole was traumatised by the incident and had not laid charges with the police.

“A process of engagement with the mines and other industries has been agreed upon in principle to seek joint sustainable solutions to issues raised,” said Mofokeng.

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.