Khutsong unrest continues

2006-02-21 10:17

Johannesburg - A house in Khutsong was petrol bombed and another five people arrested as demarcation protests continued overnight at Carletonville's Khutsong, police said on Tuesday.

"Five people were arrested for stone throwing and tyre burning and a house was petrol bombed," Senior Superintendent Mary Martins-Engelbrecht said.

The protesters oppose the transfer of the Merafong local authority from Gauteng to North West and have added the threat of a boycott of the March 1 local government elections to have the decision reversed.

Martins-Engelbrecht said a heavy police presence would be maintained while 28 people appeared in court on Tuesday following their arrest on Sunday.

They had been protesting outside a stadium where defence minister and African National Congress chairperson Mosiuoa Lekota was speaking on Sunday.

The SA Council of Churches were also travelling to the area to meet religious and community leaders to see how they could help resolve the problem.

"We will meet the local churches to bring a different strategy to restore peace in that community," said Rev Gift Moerane.

This would include seeing how they could help the Independent Electoral Commission run an election there.

'The whole community is paralysed

"At the moment the whole community is paralysed," said Moerane. "The concern of the church is for the voiceless people on the ground."

On Monday about 800 school pupils stoned the Khutsong police station, injuring three police officers and breaking several windows.

President Thabo Mbeki spoke out on the protests on Monday saying, "If people are unhappy about the demarcation they have the right to protest, but they can not intimidate people who have a different point of view."

Addressing people on the campaign trail in Soshanguve, north of Pretoria he continued, "Certainly we can't allow people to go around burning other people's houses, and stoning people and so on. That is a criminal act. We can't allow criminal acts to be perpetrated like that. So the police have to act."