Peace and order restored in Isithebe

2016-03-16 06:00
Protesters listen to community and ANC leaders.x

Protesters listen to community and ANC leaders.x

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MORE than 20 000 Isithebe industrial park workers finally returned to work on Monday after one week of no work, no pay due to violent rioting that shut down the industrial sector.

Some, however, were still unable to return to work after eight factories were torched and many others vandalised last week.

On Friday afternoon, ANC provincial and regional leaders, along with Mandeni mayor Siphesihle Zulu and community leader Mafa Khanyile, addressed the community in the area finally bringing to an end the violence.

Khanyile urged the crowd not to disrupt the municipal leader and his political counterparts when they took to the stage to speak to them and address the issues the community had raised.

Khanyile’s counsel came after a public meeting was halted last Wednesday when community members demanded that the more than 100 people who were arrested for public violence on Monday, 8 March, be released before any discussions could continue.

He said because the people who were arrested had provided incorrect identity details and addresses their release had been delayed. He promised, however, that by Tuesday, 15 March, they would be released.

Speaking to the media, Khanyile said the community’s grievances about Lawrence Magwaza – the party representative councillor at the centre of the protests – was that during his tenure as mayor of the municipality he had failed to deliver services to the community.

He said other gripes were that nurses at the local clinic are accused of being negligent and that the facility has insufficient medication and factories in the area do not employ locals and do not pay those they do employ accordingly, among others.

ANC provincial spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli said the party’s leaders had agreed that allegations levelled against Magwaza should be investigated by an entity authorised to do so.

He said because of the community’s complaints about the councillor, the organisation was compelled to relieve him of his duties as councillor. Magwaza did not oppose this decision, according to Ntuli.

He said the party is committed to working with the community to resolve issues raised, and reiterated the call for an urgent return to normalcy.

Member of the ANC’s provincial executive committee Mxolisi Kaunda said business leaders, at a meeting in Darnall on Thursday, had promised to continue with their operations in the area.

He said a certain investor had said they are willing to inject R14 billion to start up a renewable energy plant in the area.

He said party leaders had spoken to KZN MEC for Health Dr Sbongiseni Dhlomo about issues raised by locals regarding the clinic.

Greater KwaDukuza regional chairperson Ricardo Mthembu said the committee elected by the community – chaired by Khanyile – had worked jointly with ANC leaders to negotiate for the release of those arrested last Monday.

Mthembu said the party had met with its alliance partner, Cosatu, to discuss issues raised by those employed by the factories in the area.

He said one such issue was that all workers should be allowed to exercise their right to join a union.

Zulu said the week of violent and destructive protests – several factories and vehicles were torched by protesters and work and schooling was disrupted – had affected not only Mandeni, but the province, country and investors from the global community.

He said South African Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan had been asked during his recent visit to the US by one manufacturer, that has a factory in the area, whether it should close up shop following the protests.

Zulu said Gordhan assured the manufacturer that local leaders have the matter under control, pointing out that school going children and workers had been negatively affected and routine needed to be restored urgently.

Sundumbili SAPS spokesperson, Lieutenant Gideon Mthethwa said on Monday, 14 March, police were in the area keeping an eye out as people were returning to work.

KZN SAPS spokesperson, Major Thulani Zwane said: “Nothing has been reported this morning [Monday]. The arrested suspects appeared in the Mtunzini Magistrate’s Court on 9 March and the case was remanded to 15 March 2016.”

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