Municipal offices reopen after weeks of protests

2018-10-05 06:00
A burning tyre causes disruption on Matatiele roads.PHOTO: supplied

A burning tyre causes disruption on Matatiele roads.PHOTO: supplied

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Municipal offices were finally opened on Thursday after weeks of unrest in Matatiele which resulted in disruptions of basic services like electricity, water, and issuing of proof of residence, as community members blocked Matatiele Local Municipality offices while protesting for better services.

Municipal spokeswoman Olwethu Gwanya confirmed that Alfred Nzo District Municipality satellite offices in Matatiele, which normally render water services to the public, were now open after previously being closed due to protest action.

“The budget and treasury office as well as some other offices had been closed, and all municipal operations were disturbed. Staff was sent home,” she said, adding that municipal events had to be postponed.

She said an order which prohibits people from protesting next to municipal offices was served to certain people and police had threatened to arrest anyone who failed to abide by the order.

“The municipality had no other option but to end the protest action because several meetings have been held with these disgruntled people.

“The municipality had asked police to remove people who act against the law,” she said.

Last Tuesday, four community members aged between 38 and 42 years old were arrested by SAPS for allegedly breaching the order that prohibited protesters from blocking municipal offices.

After community members heard about the arrest of protesters, they closed down the Matatiele town with burning tyres, demanding the release of their members, and shops had to be closed.

SAPS spokesman Captain Raphael Motloung confirmed the arrests.

The arrested community members appeared before the Matatiele Magistrate’s Court yesterday and were released on a warning. The case was struck off the roll pending investigation.

On Wednesday afternoon, a 28-year-old man was arrested for allegedly driving a vehicle towards SAPS officers who were on patrol in Matatiele town.

“The man allegedly drove the car towards police and one police officer was injured on the leg.

“He was charged for attempted murder and was expected to appear in Matatiele Magistrate’s Court yesterday,” said Captain Motloung. At the time of going to press, outcomes of his case were not available.

Community members are demanding the construction of Matatiele roads to resume immediately. They said the construction was stopped without any reason.

The gravel roads between Maluti and Mzongwana, Khoapa and Mariazell, and Sam Kerk and Ongeluksnek were put on priority after Eastern Cape MEC of Transport Weziwe Tikana met stakeholders and protest leaders in Matatiele on August 21.

The community said they will continue fighting for their rights because Matatiele roads have been neglected for such a long time.

On September 21, the Fever reported that Tebe Matubatuba, the spokesperson of Matatiele Business Chamber, appealed to government to be honest with the people of Matatiele. Tebe said the people have been promised better roads but nothing has happened yet.

Last month, in Maluti, three government vehicles were burnt and offices were damaged when protesters demanded better roads.

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