Political tension brewing in Muden

2015-03-14 00:00

THE threat of political violence is hanging over the Muden area in the midst of the violent protests that have ground the area to a halt.

Protesters blocking the R74 ­between Muden and Greytown were allegedly attacked on Thursday. The Zibambeleni Community Organisation, a community development ­organisation that works with informal settlements’ associations, local ­development and land rights organisations, released a statement on behalf of the protesters claiming the attack was carried out by heavily armed taxi operators and IFP members.

IFP councillor Bhojabhoja ­Dlamini, however, disputed the statement and warned that political ­finger-pointing is dangerous and could inflame tensions in the area.

Mnqobi Ngubane of Zibambeleni said, “The concern of the IFP and taxi-boss alliances is the fact that they use the R74 for taxi-business services. They are prepared to go to extremes to prevent further protests and ­blocking of the R74.”

He said local taxi operators were angry with the protest that has closed the road for the past three weeks and had made death threats.

“The IFP local branches have been echoing these sentiments … Protestors now fear for their lives,” he said.

There were taxi operators, ­Ngubane said, who are members of the ANC and were in full support of the protest.

Dlamini called for restraint and said finger-pointing could spark a ­political feud.

The area is politically divided. The north side of the road blockade ­largely contains ANC supporters and the south side, IFP. There have also been signs that the community is turning on each other.

Earlier this month, residents from the south blocked a road to a pension pay point in retaliation.

“What happened is that the ­Muden operators going to Greytown via Keates Drift were ordered by the Keates Drift operators to stop using that route. There were allegations that they ‘stole’ passengers,” Dlamini said.

“The operators and the community found themselves stranded and turned their focus into reopening the road.

“The community, with the taxi ­operators, went up and closed the trenches in the morning. In the ­afternoon, the trenches had been dug up again. It was not IFP members, but the community.”

Greytown Mayor Thamsanqa Ngubane said he was not aware of the alleged confrontation as he was away yesterday.

“The situation is not political. If there are any political tensions, they would be a result of opportunists ­taking a chance,” he said.

The police said the alleged attack was not reported to them.

Attempts to get comment from the department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) were unsuccessful.

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