Unrest ‘due to lack of employment’

2017-10-18 06:02
Armed members of Welkom’s Public Order Policing Unit on guard during a recent protest march organised by the Matjhabeng Unemployment Forum to present a memorandum, demanding jobs, to the mining chamber. Photo: Teboho Setena

Armed members of Welkom’s Public Order Policing Unit on guard during a recent protest march organised by the Matjhabeng Unemployment Forum to present a memorandum, demanding jobs, to the mining chamber. Photo: Teboho Setena

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DA councillor André Steyger of the trouble-ridden Matjha-beng Local Municipality blames the violent local unrest on the lack of employment opportunities.

The unrest, which erupted on Monday, 9 October, is not new in Welkom, Virginia, Odendaalsrus and Allanridge.

It has been happening in phases since 2014 and whenever there was a protest over the lack of jobs, the police continued to arrest shop looters in the process.

A movement called the Matjhabeng Unemployment Forum (Muf) was established as a mediator to engage stakeholders in addressing the huge unemployment and also try to avert criminal activities.

“Matjhabeng is a ticking time bomb. The violent unrest this past week is a symptom of frustration experienced mainly by youth due to the lack of opportunities. The young people are languishing in the streets with no hope for a bright future,” Steyger said.

“While the DA promotes the right to peaceful demonstrations, we condemn the violence taking place as property continues to be vandalised.

“We believe that the only way forward is through constructive discussion and participation by all stakeholders.”

Steyger said the DA in the greater Matjhabeng region was running a campaign challenging the government to avail free data for young people in order for them to easily access jobs and business opportunities.

“Due to the lack of income versus the inflated expenses and losses, it is a mathematical fact that Matjhabeng might be faced with going under administration.

“Unless it is bailed out by national government or if the local leadership starts implementing effective procedure to turn the municipality around and start generating income, that might be the only resort. Monies generated by the municipality must be for the benefit of the residents to ensure service delivery takes place,” said Steyger.

Brig. Motantsi Makhele, provincial police spokesperson, said the police have arrested 61 people for crimes ranging from public violence, robbery, theft and malicious damage to property. He said the suspects are expected to appear in court today (18/10).

Makhele said the charges emanated from disruptive actions which started on 9 October in some of the towns in the Matjhabeng district.

The chaos affected Allanridge (Nyakallong), Oden-daalsrus (Kutlwanong), Welkom, Thabong, Virginia (Meloding) and Bronville.

“Several shops belonging to foreign nationals were attacked by criminal elements and a satellite police station was damaged, as were government vehicles in Nyakallong.

“A bus was set alight and a truck damaged on the R30 Road, and the bus commuters were robbed of their personal belongings,” he said.

In another incident in Thabong, Makhele said two OFM radio station journalists were robbed of personal belongings.

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