Jobless NGO chair arrested

2009-11-20 00:00

THE national chairman of the SA Unemployed People’s Organisation (SAUPM), Thokozani Ndwalana, and his general secretary, Muzi Mkhize, were arrested during a gathering in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

Three more people were arrested when more than 200 unemployed people gathered in Alexandra Park to demand the release of four members of SAUPM who were arrested on Wednesday.

The SAUPM officials are accused of charging unemployed people R10 each with the promise of getting a basic income grant of R1 500 a month from the government.

The Witness reported on Wednesday that Social Development MEC Meshack Radebe was excused from Parliament in Cape Town to come to the city to attend to the grants scam.

During yesterday’s arrests, a large amount of money and documents were confiscated by the police commercial crime unit.

A total of nine people have been arrested since Radebe’s visit.

The angry crowd marched to Central police station in Jabu Ndlovu Street shouting slogans criticising Radebe for his approach to the matter.

Some claimed the MEC does not care about the poor as he is rich.

Police used pepper spray and physical force to break up the angry mob after they had refused to disperse.

“We do not want the MEC, he is using his power to oppress the poor.

“There is a high rate of unemployment in the city, and the next thing that we will do will be to enter local shops and steal food because of hunger,” said one of the protesters.

Lungani Khwela, the national organiser of SAUPM, an NGO that was established in August last year, insis­ted the R10 fee is not linked to the R1 500 grant application.

He said it is money that will be used to develop the organisation.

SAPS spokeswoman Inspector Joey Jeevan said no injuries were repor­ted. Those arrested will appear in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court shortly, Jeevan added.

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