Pro-Zuma protest turns into an extortion racket in Nkandla

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Former president Jacob Zuma's supporters in Nkandla have been using tree branches and boulders to block roads.
Former president Jacob Zuma's supporters in Nkandla have been using tree branches and boulders to block roads.

Pro-Jacob Zuma protests have been hijacked by extortionist who are charging Nkandla residents a fee to get through roads and bridges that have been blocked by protesters. 

The former president’s neighbours say they are paying a heavy price for his arrest as they cannot get to the nearest towns if they refuse to pay the so-called protesters blocking the main routes. 

Nkandla residents often have to drive to nearby towns such as Eshowe and Kranskop for shopping and other purposes, have to pay those blocking roads a fee ranging from R50 to R100 to pass through what the protestors call “toll gates”.

The road blockages have caused a major inconvenience to the small village with few routes connecting them to the nearest towns.

“They use boulders and tree branches to block the roads and then hide in the nearby bushes. They are always armed with stones and pangas.

“If they see a vehicle approaching they emerge from the bushes and demand money before clearing part of the road and allowing the vehicle to pass,” said one of the motorists who live in Nkandla.

Nkandla Municipality Mayor, Thamsanqa Ntuli, on Sunday described the situation in the area as “worrying”.

“Even in the CBD, the protestors, who sang anti-President Cyril Ramaphosa songs, have since yesterday (Saturday) been burning tyres and blocking roads.

“What I find most worrying about these protests is that the police are doing nothing about them. I even called the province about it and was told that local police were not trained in public order policing,” he said.

Ntuli, who is an IFP mayor, said he was concerned that the protests would intensify on Sunday.

“There are messages currently circulating where residents are warned to do whatever shopping they need to do today because there would be a complete shutdown tomorrow (on Monday)” he said.

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