Copesville protests on hold

2016-04-20 09:50
Police remove barricades placed by protesters in Copesville, near Pietermaritzburg.

Police remove barricades placed by protesters in Copesville, near Pietermaritzburg. (Ian Carbutt)

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Pietermaritzburg - Copesville protesters have agreed to put their protests on hold until they get feedback from the city leadership.

This emerged following talks they held with two of Msunduzi Municipality’s representatives on Tuesday.

But police said although the almost 5 000 protesters promised to await the response of the city, police presence will remain strong in the area.

Msunduzi Mayor Chris Ndlela said the city’s chairperson of the Rapid Response Team, Dumisani Kunene, and Blessing Dlamini of the Speaker’s office had addressed the crowd and listened to their grievances. “They have got to know what the specific issues in the area are and will return to us with information. We are very concerned at what is going on in the area and will act immediately once we know all the factors,” said Ndlela.

Police spokesperson Captain Gay Ebrahim said 27 people, including one juvenile, were arrested and appeared at the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday. Their case was postponed until May 24 for further investigation.

She said by late Tuesday afternoon the roads were cleared of debris and washed with the assistance of Msunduzi Fire Department.

Crime Intelligence, Public Order Policing unit and Mountain Rise police patrolled the area all of Monday night and into Tuesday.

The leaders of the protesters addressed the group on Tuesday, saying they were dissatisfied that municipal and ANC delegations did not come to the area. “They are ignoring us. We will not stop until they come here and talk to us,” said one of the protesters.

A resident in Copesville, who did not want to be named, said the protests were also related to RDP houses being built in the area. She said the building started “magically” without the community being informed. “The people are angry because they heard that the houses are being allocated to our councillor’s friends and family from Sweetwaters,” said the resident. She said protesters wanted to be employed in the building project and when they approached the ward councillor Thandi Ndlovu, “they were chased”.

A police source confirmed this was one of the issues being raised by the protesters, who said people were angry because they did not know who was building the houses or who the homes were being allocated to.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

LATE on Monday night, a group of protesters set a R2 million clinic alight in Copesville.

“No one was injured, however, arrests were made related to the action,” said police spokesperson Captain Gay Ebrahim.

The clinic consisted of 14 consulting rooms, two waiting areas, ablution facilities and a staff kitchen.

Spokesperson for the Department of Health Desmond Motha said a team from uMgungundlovu District visited the site on Tuesday under the protection of police, and found that the clinic had been burnt to the ground. KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo said he was disgusted at the behaviour of those responsible for setting the clinic alight.

“It is unthinkable that anyone in their right mind would destroy a public health facility.

“I don’t care how legitimate you believe your cause to be, destroying scarce, life-saving government resources just cannot be justified. We live in a country where there is rule of law. People must just follow the right channels to air their grievances,” said Dhlomo.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  protest

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