Group arrested after protests

A total of 25 people were arrested on protest-related charges in Wesselton, Mpumalanga police said today.

“Twenty-five people were arrested from Sunday till today [Monday]...they face charges of public violence, malicious damage to property, incitement and business robbery,” Captain Leonard Hlathi said.

“I can confirm it is all protest related,” he said.

Hlathi was referring to violent protests in the township last week that resulted in the death of a 45-year-old man and extensive damage to municipal property.

Dumisani Mahaye, who was a spokesperson for the protesters in the area last week, was apparently arrested this morning, according to his brother Simphiwe Mahaye.

“We tried to go inside earlier and see why they were being held. We saw them behind a glass panel on their knees and handcuffed,” Mahaye said.

“They were being hit by sticks [batons] and it looked like they were being questioned. I tried to take a photo but the policeman took my phone and deleted it,” he alleged.

Mahaye said that the arrests had made residents angry.

“Because of these arrests, the meeting will most likely not happen today and that means we will not get answers,” he said.

A community meeting with senior leaders of the ANC had been scheduled for today, following which a decision to take action would have been made.

Mahaye said that protests could start afresh if talks did not take place.

No incidents of violence had yet been reported in the area, Hlathi said.

The group would appear in Ermelo Magistrates Court tomorrow.

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