Richmond protesters block roads demanding delivery

2013-06-04 00:00

THE sleepy town of Richmond came to a standstill when an angry mob blockaded the exit and entry points of Endaleni Township with burning tyres yesterday morning.

Workers couldn’t go to work and eight schools were forced to close.

A resident who did not want to be named said protesters blocked off all the main entrances of the township.

“Not even taxis operated. The protesters wanted everyone to join the service delivery protest,” said the resident.

Mayor Andrew Ragavaloo said the service delivery protest was organised by the South African Communist Party (SACP), and that it was legal. “But we were shocked to see people blockading the road with burning tyres at 3:30 am,” he said.

Ragavaloo said in the morning a group of about 40 people marched to eight schools and forced pupils to leave.

He said they asked for police intervention, and added that they will ensure that those responsible were brought to book. “We respect the rights for people to strike, but when there are criminal elements we need to investigate because other people’s rights were infringed.”

He added that they would be responding to the memorandum handed over by the protesters.

The SACP Harry Gwala District regional secretary Themba Magwaza distanced his organisation from the chaos in Richmond. “Ours was a peaceful service delivery protest to hand over a memorandum of grievances. Some areas in Richmond are without water and electricity.”

He said it was ironic that the ANC gave Richmond an award for best performing municipality when they had failed to improve the lives of the people. “… We also have a problem of white elephant projects that never saw completion.”

ANC Moses Mabhida regional secretary Super Zuma said the award was given in terms of how the municipality handled issues of service delivery and how they managed their budget. “We are not saying everyone in Richmond has access to services, but the award was in line with how the municipality was performing.”

KwaZulu-Natal Education Department spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said they were disturbed to hear that pupils were forced out of classes by protesters.

“Rights come with responsibilities. They could have protested without disrupting learning,” said Mlotshwa.

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