Ministers set up war room as Tshwane violence escalates

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The community of Atteridgeville rushed from a heated meeting to battling flames that were razing down a huge shack used as a storeroom at a church not far from the hall where the community meeting was held earlier today.

It is believed the structure was torched as part of the continuing arson incidents across the volatile parts of Tshwane – including Mamelodi, Soshanguve and Hammanskraal – in the past 24 hours.

City Press has learnt that a high delegate war room comprising ministers and Gauteng MECs has been set up in Pretoria.

More information will be published as soon as it becomes available.

The attack on the storeroom came after the protesting community refused pleas by incumbent Tshwane metro mayor Kgosientso Sputla Ramokgopa to allow the situation to return to normal.

This happened at a meeting which was held at a community hall in Kalafong area of the township west of Pretoria earlier today.

The meeting was aimed at getting Ramokgopa to make it clear that he was supporting the ANC’s decision to nominate former minister Thoko Didiza as its mayoral candidate in the region he leads as ANC chairperson.

Addressing the media after a meeting where community members spoke out angrily and accused the governing party of imposing Didiza on them, ANC national executive committee member Aaron Motsoaledi said party members were told to behave accordingly.

“[Some people] told us in the meeting that they were ANC members and not hooligans [and we] told them to behave like members and not hooligans ... then they would be listened to,” he said.

Motsoaledi promised to escalate their grievances to Luthuli House for consideration.

He said they were promised that the ANC was “a listening organisation”.

Ramokgopa said he had condemned the violent protests and had called for “calm and tranquillity”.

“The message was conveyed that torching buildings, destroying assets and threatening lives is not what the ANC represents and can’t be done in the name of any ANC leader, including myself,” he said.

Ramokgopa urged protesters to accept Didiza’s nomination – like he did himself.

Gauteng ANC chairperson Paul Mashatile, who was earlier booed in the same meeting, said: “Since this problem started we’ve appeal for calm ... [we] respected the fact that the community wanted to raise issues with us but we wanted to do it in a situation that is normal.”

He reiterated that ANC structures were going to be engaged to address the grievances.

Meanwhile, there was a resurgence of violence in areas like Soshanguve, where the R80 or Mabopane Highway was brought to a standstill by protesters.

Traffic was also affected on the R101 from Hammanskraal to Pretoria as well as on the N1 between the Carousel and Phumlani toll gates.
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