More shops looted, building and cars torched overnight in Mahikeng

Residents in Montshiwa in Mahikeng have taken to the streets demanding an end to Supra Mahumapelo’s tenure as premier of the North West (Supplied)
Residents in Montshiwa in Mahikeng have taken to the streets demanding an end to Supra Mahumapelo’s tenure as premier of the North West (Supplied)

Police say the situation in Mahikeng has improved even as more shops were looted, and two cars were set alight overnight.

Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Sabata Mokgwabone said protesters attempted to set alight a building alight in the North West town, but police were quick to respond.

LIVE: Protest chaos in Mahikeng, Ramaphosa to intervene

Mokgwabone said protesters had also looted several shops, mostly belonging to foreign nationals.

"A bottle store was looted, and a vehicle was torched at the department of public works. They also torched a vehicle and a guard house at the department of education."

Reports of the town's McDonald's being torched were untrue, he said.

Barricades

Violence broke out in Mahikeng on Wednesday night when protesters took to the streets to call for the removal of Premier Supra Mahumapelo.

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On Thursday, protesters barricaded two main entrances leading into Mahikeng with burning tyres and rocks. Police used rubber bullets, stun grenades and teargas to disperse the crowds. Roads were later opened for motorists.

Mokgwabone, said a man was shot dead during a high-speed chase with police in Mahikeng on Thursday, but that it was not linked to the unrest.

He said the chase followed a robbery at one of the hotels in town.

Provincial police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Adele Myburgh said on Thursday that 16 people had been arrested since the protests started.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has cut his trip in the UK short to intervene.

Ramaphosa had been participating in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London where he led a government delegation.

The meeting with Mahikeng residents is expected to commence at 12:00 on Friday.

Police remain on high alert in the area.

'Political opportunism'

The ANC in the North West said on Thursday that it condemned the violence.

"While there are genuine service delivery protests, we as the ANC regard these latest acts of violence in Mahikeng as political opportunism disguised as community outrage," acting provincial secretary Susan Dantjie said in a statement.

"This is evident in the main call of those who have been quoted in the media attacking ANC provincial chairperson, comrade Supra Mahumapelo, who is also premier of the province, using untested allegations of corruption," she said.

"We condemn the violence, torching and damage to property by protesters and want to make it clear that this is wrong... These acts of violence have led to learners not being able to go to school, patients unable to access health facilities, while public servants in clinics around Mahikeng, and Mahikeng Provincial Hospital are being harassed by some of the protesters."

The ANC laid the blame for the "Supra Must Go" movement at the door of an organisation called the North West Business Forum.

The forum's chair Fana Moraka said it fully supports the call for Mahumapelo to resign with immediate effect.

"Should he not voluntarily resign, we call on the national leadership of the ANC to recall him immediately, in the interest of peace and stability in the province," Moraka said.

"The NWBF warns that should Mahumapelo not resign, the Mahikeng protests will spiral to other parts of the province, causing irreparable damage to the economy and political stability of the province.

"We call on businesses around Mahikeng to remain closed during protests to avoid being looted and vandalised. The police are protecting Supra's business properties and do not care about other business and public properties."

Moraka said that if Mahumapelo was not recalled, the people of the North West would remove him, "like we did the late bantustan leader, Lucas Mangope back in 1993.

"History has a way of repeating itself," Moraka said.

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