ANGRY residents of Matatiele have turned away local municipal employees, demanding the construction of roads to resume immediately. They said the construction of roads was stopped without any reason in the past two weeks.
Community member Mokiti Lepheana said the complaints from road construction workers in the area about ill-treatment were not true. He said residents made the decision to close municipal offices until road construction resumed.
Last month, the issue of bad roads in the area came to light when a concerned group of people closed the entire town. Three government vehicles were burnt down, while buildings were damaged during community protest action held at the Department of Public Works offices in Maluti last month.
The gravel roads between Maluti and Mzongwana, Khoapa and Mariazell and Sam Kerk and Ongeluksnek were put on priority after Eastern Cape MEC of Transport Weziwe Tikana met stakeholders and protest leaders in Matatiele on August 21.
On Monday, Matatiele Municipal spokesperson Olwethu Gwanya confirmed that employees were told to go home after their offices were blocked by a group of people. She said people started by closing the budget and treasury office, before moving to other offices and, in the end, the municipality had to send all employees home.
“All municipal services have been disrupted, including the work of the Auditor General, who is on site. The municipality was not initially aware of the reasons for the interruptions because there have been several engagements with the people about bad roads,” she said.
Gwanya said on Monday that Matatiele Municipal mayor Momelezi Mbedla had accepted a memorandum from the people, and will seek guidance from his superiors about a way forward.
Tebe Matubatuba, the spokesperson of Matatiele Business Chamber said government needs to be honest with the people of Matatiele.
“People have been promised better roads but nothing has happened yet,” he said.
Police have been deployed to monitor the area.