Protesters want mayor to resign

2014-12-02 00:00

BUSINESSES in Richmond deserted their premises as almost 1 000 protesters descended on the town yesterday demanding that the mayor step down.

Shop doors were locked shut, vehicles were scarce and only a few people braved the streets as a massive crowd of protesters could be seen assembling on the horizon of the “Hella Hella” township on the hill above Richmond’s CBD.

Within minutes, the majority of the crowd had sprinted into the town’s streets, breaking up into small groups to try to bypass police, to get to the R56 main road. When they were blocked, they gathered outside the ­municipal offices and threw large stones at the police. Police retaliated by launching tear gas canisters into the crowd.

Protesters could be seen fleeing in all directions, tramping over one another as two massive clouds of gas soared over the buildings from the streets below.

According to Richmond municipal manager Edward Sithole the group from the South African National Civic Organisation had applied to conduct the march because of a lack of service delivery. The march was authorised under certain restrictions in terms of the time, their route and security implementation.

“Their application had many ­shortfalls and they wanted the premier to meet them so they could hand over a memorandum. They were marching against the municipality because of service delivery and they initially wanted four councillors to be fired,” Sithole said.

According to Sithole, yesterday’s marchers demanded that the mayor, ­Andrew Ragavaloo, and another member of the executive committee step down.

After police regained control, the masses of people gathered in front of the municipality where they sang and danced until their memorandum was handed over to the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

Efforts to speak to Sanco were ­unsuccessful yesterday.

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