MAHIKENG, April 19 – Looting continued unabated in North West capital Mahikeng on Thursday, as the call for Premier Supra Mahumapelo to vacate office grew.
In Lonely Park, north of Mahikeng, youngsters used catapults to loop stones at the police along Nelson Mandela Drive near the Hotel School, they used corrugated iron sheets as shields as they pelted the police with stones.
The police fired rubber bullets and teargas to dispersed the raging youngsters and in the mist of a cat and mouse game between them and the police — a truck parked at Agri-Market in Lonely Park was petrol bombed.
Fire fighters were called to extinguish the fire under police guard, some members of the police went into the township to dispersed pockets of protesters who had blocked the roads with branches and rocks.
North West police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Adele Myburgh said a police armoured vehicle (Nyala) was petrol bombed in Danville south of Mahikeng.
“A Nyala was thrown with a petrol bomb but, it did not burn out,” she said.
She said a police officer’s house was also attacked by a rioting crowd in Danville.
“She was not hurt, police members were near to her house and assisted her, only one room of her house was damaged.”
Residents of Mahikeng and surrounding villages shut down the capital demanding that Mahumapelo resign.
The protest was ignited by the death of two people at Montshioa Stad Clinic on Tuesday, the two could not receive medical attention at the clinic due to the ongoing National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) led strike in the province.
Members of Nehawu have been on strike since February 26, demanding the dismissal of head of department Dr Thabo Lekalakala; the termination of contracted companies by the department; a bonus payment of five percent across the board to all employees in the department; the payment of occupation specific dispensation (OSD) for employees at provincial offices; and an increase of Community Health Workers’ salaries.
Residents want Mahumapelo to resign on allegations of rampant corruption under his leadership.
A motion of no confidence in Mahumapelo was postponed on Tuesday, after the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) requested that Speaker Sussana Dantjie postpone the motion while they approached the courts to force the motion to be conducted through a secret ballot.
Dantjie wanted the motion to proceed through an open ballot.
Police were monitoring the situation in several villages in Mahikeng, a police plane also monitored the situation from the sky.
The African National Congress (ANC) in North West on Thursday said it was concerned about the sporadic protests in the North West capital Mahikeng that have escalated into lawlessness and violence.
“While there are often genuine service delivery protests, we as the ANC, regard these latest acts of violence in Mahikeng as political opportunism disguised as community outrage,” said acting provincial secretary Sussana Dantjie.
“This is evident in the main call of those who have been quoted in the media attacking ANC provincial chairperson, Cde Supra Mahumapelo, who is also premier of our province, using untested allegations of corruption.
“They are continuing on the same trajectory of the Supra Must Fall campaign started by those who once called themselves the North West Business Forum and have now changed their name to the Revolutionary Council. This is the same call that is now being used by some opposition parties in the province,” she said.
She added that the ANC was happy with the ongoing engagements between the National education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and the task team of MECs Mahumapelo had established to find a solution to the health workers’ strike.
Members of Nehawu have been on strike since February 26, demanding the dismissal of head of the health department Dr Thabo Lekalakala, the termination of contracted companies by the department, bonus payments, payment of occupation specific dispensation (OSD) for employees at provincial offices and increase of Community Health Workers salaries.
“We urge them to meet day and night to reach an agreement in line with the striking workers’ demands. We therefore request our public servants to go back to work in order to help our society with the health services they are entitled to as prescribed in our country’s Constitution,” she said.
“We condemn the violence, torching and damage to property by protesters and want to make it clear that this is wrong and unacceptable. These acts of violence has led to learners not being able to go to schools, patients being unable to access health facilities, while public servants in clinics around Mahikeng and Mahikeng Provincial Hospital are being harassed by some of the protesters.”
Mahikeng was totally shut down on Thursday, as the call for Mahumapelo to step down continue to mount.
Protestors have called on Mahumapelo to vacate the premiership.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in North West said the ANC was protecting Mahumapelo rather than to intervene and alleviate the plight of communities in North West.
“The province is in shambles, yet the ANC deputy secretary-general, Jesse Duarte, has come out to say that the ‘ANC members in the North West legislature won’t support a motion of no confidence in premier Supra Mahumapelo’, despite obvious problems within the party’s leadership,” DA provincial leader Joe McGluwa said.
“Since then violent protests flared up in and around Mahikeng, vehicles were torched, roads are closed and the capital city was brought to a standstill today. People are openly asking for the Premier to be removed.”
North West capital Mahikeng was on a knife edge on Thursday amid rising calls to unseat embattled North West premier Supra Mahumapelo.
Shops were closed and streets blockaded with burning objects as the calls for Mahumapelo to step down mount.
A group of youngsters armed with rocks and sticks barricaded Nelson Mandela Drive linking the North West capital and Botswana, with burning objects littering the road.
“We do not talk to media, go and talk to Supra, we do not want Supra and his cabinet,” said one man from the group.
On the same road, about 10 kilometres away, a truck trailer was torched and youngsters were also piling burning tyres on the road.
Elsewhere, a police armoured vehicle (Nyala) was petrol bombed in Danville near the capital, while in Dibate near Mmabatho, a group of youngsters looted tuck shops and police resorted to firing rubber bullets.
Protesters, who were aggressive to the media, said they want Mahumapelo to resign as the premier of North West.
The protest started on Wednesday in Montshioa where a bus was torched. This was apparently sparked by the death of two people at the Montshioa Stad Clinic, after they reportedly did not get help due to the ongoing strike by nursing staff.
Members of the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) have been on strike since February 26, demanding the dismissal of head of the health department Dr Thabo Lekalakala, the termination of contracted companies by the department, bonus payments, the payment of occupation specific dispensation (OSD) for employees at provincial offices and increases of Community Health Workers salaries.
North West Community Safety and Transport Management MEC Dr Mpho Motlhabane appealed for calm.
“We have observed that there are certain individuals who are taking advantage of the current situation to commit crime. We are appealing to communities to stay away from these illegal protests to avoid finding themselves on the wrong side of the law.
“While citizens do have the right to protest, that must be done peacefully, within the framework of the law and not to loot from shops as well as damaging of private properties.”
He appealed to residents to stay in their houses and ensure that children were also in safe places to avoid unnecessary injuries and attacks.
“Let us remain in our houses for safety and avoid going to volatile areas because your safety will be compromised,” he said.
North West police said nine people were arrested for public violence on Wednesday night.
“The suspects were arrested in Montshioa and surrounding villages respectively for public violence and malicious damage to property. They are expected to appear in the Mmabatho Magistrates’ Court soon,” said Lieutenant Colonel Adele Myburgh.
“Yesterday [Wednesday], after the police had managed to calm the situation, violence erupted in the evening in Unit 9, Unit 13 and Unit 14. It was during the night that a truck trailer was torched in Moshawane village outside Mahikeng, while a vehicle and a truck were set alight separately along Mahikeng-Vryburg road. There were also incidents of looting that were reported in areas such as Lomanyaneng, Montshioa and Mmabatho,” she said.
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