10 people arrested, one for excavator 'hijacking' in Potchefstroom protests

2019-06-27 14:14

Ten people have been arrested in Ikageng, outside Potchefstroom in the North West, for public violence allegedly committed in connection with service delivery protests in the area.

According to police spokesperson Colonel Adéle Myburgh, three women and six men, aged between 18 and 46, were arrested on public violence charges on Wednesday afternoon.

The arrests included a 36-year-old person who was nabbed for allegedly forcing an excavator driver to dig up tarred roads in the area.

The arrested protesters were allegedly part of a group of residents who are frustrated about service delivery by the JB Marks Municipality. They barricaded the N12 freeway, preventing traffic from flowing.

ALSO WATCH: Protesters 'hijack' excavator, force operator to dig up road near Potchefstroom

In a video doing the rounds on social media, an excavator could be seen removing large portions of tarred road as the community watched. Some people stood on the machine behind the operator.

Myburgh said residents forced the construction worker operating the excavator to dig up the road.

"It is alleged that approximately 300 residents of Extension 11 barricaded the N12 road between Klerksdorp and Potchefstroom with various objects since 05:00. The illegal act led to the closure of the road and motorists who travelled between Potchefstroom and Klerksdorp, or vice-versa, had to use the Mooibank Road as an alternative.

"In the course of the protest action, the protesters allegedly pelted the police and motorists with stones while goods were looted from a delivery truck.

"According to information available at this stage, reports suggest that as part of protest action that started on Monday, an excavator was used to dig up holes and damage roads leading to Kanana and Top City in Ikageng late in the afternoon on Tuesday. A case of malicious damage to property has been opened and a 36-year-old suspect has been arrested," said Myburgh.

READ: More woes for troubled JB Marks Municipality as cloud hangs over chief labour relations officer's appointment

The 36-year-old man was a protester and not the driver of the excavator, she said.

The owner of the construction company that used the excavator machine told IOL that protesters previously targeted him and took his two trucks to the N12, holding his driver hostage.

All 10 arrested people are expected to appear in the Potchefstroom Magistrate's Court on Friday.

She said police have been maintaining their presence in the area and that the N12 has been open for traffic since Wednesday evening.

North West police commissioner, Lieutenant General Baile Motswenyane, condemned the acts of violence and the damaging of infrastructure.

Motswenyane further urged members of the community to respect the rule of law and to desist from any form of violence and destruction of private and public properties, saying it would land them in trouble with the law.

North West Premier Job Mokgoro is expected to appoint an administrator to oversee the improvement of certain areas under the control of the JB Marks Municipality, once approved by the province's executive council.

News24 earlier reported that the municipality was placed under administration after it received a disclaimer of opinion from the Auditor-General in the 2016/2017 financial year.

Read more on:    mahikeng  |  crime  |  protests

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