Clinic, factory and training centre vandalised

2017-06-01 06:00
The staff of LIV Village inspects the damage at the clinic. Photo: andile sithole

The staff of LIV Village inspects the damage at the clinic. Photo: andile sithole

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MORE than 1000 protesters vandalised a clinic and burnt a factory in the Cottonlands area, outside Verulam on Monday, May 22.

The protesters accused the management of LIV Village, an orphanage in the area of employing people from outside communities.
The protest started in the morning at about 5am with the protesters blockading the main entrance and side entrance to LIV Village with burning tyres.

The disgruntled protesters pulled down fences, burned down a wooden hut and pulled out road signs as they made their way down to the main gate.
A clothing factory, clinic, training centre and offices were vandalised. The protesters also looted the clothing factory and burnt some of the clothes outside the factory.  

LIV Village house more than 300 orphans coming from different areas.

Carita McCririe of LIV Village said: “The protest was called by the community to show dislike for the employment of people from outside communities. All the mothers and children were evacuated to the multipurpose hall in the middle of the village due to some protesters throwing rocks towards the LIV security and staff. 

“The protesters made their way to LIV’s first security gate where they forced the gate open to make their way onto LIV property. They pulled down fences, burned down a wooden hut and pulled out road signs as they made their way down to the main gate. They forced the main gate open, but did not enter areas where the mothers, children and staff were.

“The group then made their way back to the main entrance. They then broke down the main gate to our factories, training centre and clinic and also broke down the back wall.”  

Chairperson of the area committee in Cottonlands, Njabulo Cibane said they had received complaints from people working at LIV Village complaining about outsiders taking jobs of the locals. 

“We have noted that Tich Smith [founder of LIV] employs more outsiders than locals. When he started LIV Village he promised us that the community of Cottonlands will benefits in all the projects. But this is not happening. He fired six local people without giving them proper explanation. We are not happy with the way the management of LIV Village is treating us as the community.”

A special meeting between the management of LIV Village and representatives from the community was held at Verulam police station to pave a way forward.  Representatives of LIV Village met the area committee at police station to resolve the issue.
Both parties agreed on working together to resolve the issues. A task team will be set up to address the concerns of the community.

Ward councillor Fakazi Mdletshe said: “The residents demand that all unskilled workers [working for LIV Village] must be removed. We have skilled people in the area who are currently not working. In a meeting we agreed that the leaders from the community will source skilled labourers within the community. All workers who are not qualified to do their jobs in all projects at LIV Village must be removed. Local people working at LIV Village complained about discrimination and several meetings were held with the management of LIV Village to try and solve the problem. The community reached a stage where they decided to protest against Smith.”

On Monday afternoon, a community meeting was held in Cottonlands to report back to the residents.

“We are giving them nine days to remove all unskilled workers. By June 2, the community agreed that there must be transformation in terms of employment at LIV Village. Smith agreed to listen to the concerns raised by the community.” 

In a statement sent to Costal Weekly, Smith said: “The vision of LIV village has always been to not only look after the vulnerable orphaned children in a village environment, but also to come alongside our neighbouring communities. The biggest problem in the communities is the high percentage of unemployed people. Our aim is to skill, a train and employs as many people from the community as possible. But LIV is limited by funding. We continue to look for funding all over the works for the village and the businesses. We hope to grow the business so as to employ more people as the business become profitable.
“We have also set up a culinary school, welding school and clothing factory where we train people from the community and hopefully help them to get jobs or employ them in the business. It is heartbreaking to see the community clinic being vandalised as well as the clothing factory, the printing factory and the welding school. We hope that our meeting [held last Monday] which lasted four hours at the Verulam police station with the community leaders will lead to a closer working relationship with the community.”

Police spokesperson in Verulam Captain Mark Prakasim said the police were called to monitor the situation.  He dismissed initial reports that one person was shot and wounded.

“Police opened a case of public violence. The police had to use rubber bullets to disperse the crowd as the protest was illegal. Our members monitored the situation as the protestors were burning tyres. One suspect was arrested in Tongaat for possession of suspected stolen property. He was found in possession of a Acetylene Gas Cylinder. The suspect was charged under Section 36.”

Captain Prakasim confirmed that protesters looted the clothing factory and took items such as fridges and computers.




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