Service delivery protest becomes tense as residents refuse to negotiate

The situation is getting tense in Matsulu, near Nelspruit, as more police reinforcements have been deployed after protesting community members refused to send a delegation to meet Mbombela mayor, Cathy Dlamini.

Members of the Tactical Response Unit have arrived and they are preparing for a confrontation with community members. They’re wearing bullet-proof vests and have their rifles ready.

The Matsulu residents blockaded the only road out of the township early this morning as they protested against lack of service delivery.

The arrival of the police unit known as “amaberets” has, however, forced the community into submission as they have left the road, which joins the N4 toll route, and allowed vehicles in and out of the township. Schools have been closed and those who work in Nelspruit could not go into town.

Water is the residents’ main concern, while they have also accused their councillor Maria Mashele of refusing to meet with them. They are also accusing Mashele of nepotism when it comes to jobs, RDP houses and toilet allocations.

Dlamini showed up briefly, but did not get out of her vehicle, leaving the police to negotiate with the stubborn community members to send a delegation to Nelspruit.

Even ANC Ehlanzeni region’s secretary Pat Ngomane could not convince the residents to go to the negotiating table.

“The ANC should remove this councillor. She’s failing to work with us,” said a community leader who refused to be named.

Service delivery protests seem to be on the rise again in Mpumalanga. Last week, disgruntled community members in Mayflower near Carolina and KaMaqhekeza near Malalane also went on the rampage.

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