Violent Limpopo protests worry local government union

JOHANNESBURG– THE  SA Local Government Association (SALGA) on Tuesday condemned the violent protests in Limpopo that resulted in the destruction of property and municipal infrastructure.

Violent protests by residents of Mapela outside Mokopane, Limpopo, entered its second week as residents demanded jobs and community projects from mining company Mogalakwena Platinum Mine, owned by Anglo American Platinum.

Roads in Vuwani, Limpopo remained closed on Tuesday and businesses were looted overnight as residents continued to protest against planned inclusion into a newly demarcated Malamulele Municipality.

”It does not make sense to destroy municipal property or facilities. With the limited fiscal that is allocated to municipalities to operate with, the reality is that many municipalities have limited resources or means to rebuild the facilities that protesters destroy; as a result, it will take years to have them rebuilt,” said spokesperson Tahir Sema.

Limpopo police spokesman Elijah Malatji said a total shutdown in the area saw schools and businesses closing down as the protests turned violent.

”Last night [Monday], several businesses were looted and some burnt down. These include two hardware stores were burnt down, two bar lounges were stormed in and alcohol looted and butchery,” Malatji said on Tuesday.

”One person, a 29-year-old male was arrested overnight after he was found carrying stolen alcohol.”

He added that there was no public transport in or out of the area, as roads were barricaded with tyres and rocks.

Learning at schools was disrupted as residents continued to block roads and vandalise properties in the area.

Sema said Anglo American Platinum management should hold a public meeting with residents and commit to resolving the problems in the area.

In another protest, buses were burnt down overnight in Marapong, Lephalale. At least 20 buses were reportedly set alight and a satellite police station was also vandalised. No arrests had been made to date.

In Vuwani, residents looted shops and vandalised property as they continued protesting against being included in the newly planned Malamulele Municipality. A total shutdown in the area last month saw schools and businesses closing down as the protests turned violent.

The protesters demanded that President Jacob Zuma intervene and accede to their demand to be excluded from the Malamulele Municipality.

The protests were sparked by the Municipal Demarcation Board’s announcement in July that Malamulele would get its own new municipality, which would be known as the Malamulele-Vuwani Municipality. The board decided to incorporate the Vuwani area into the new municipality.

Sema said: ”Burning municipal buildings and facilities is not just an act of vandalism punishable under public violence. It is similar to destroying your own house and furniture as a result of anger. This does not make sense and should be condemned by all caring and patriotic South Africans”. – ANA