MAHIKENG, April 20 – Government on Friday noted the violent protests which have rocked the North West provincial capital Mahikeng and surrounds, slamming the looting and destruction of property as “unacceptable”.
President Cyril Ramaphosa flew in from UK on Thursday night in a bid to quell the violence which has accompanied growing calls for the removal of North West premier Supra Mahumapelo.
Ramaphosa arrived in Mahikeng Friday at midday where he was set to have an urgent meeting with African National Congress ( ANC) structures in the province in an attempt to resolve the ongoing unrest.
Government spokesperson Phumla Williams said “all acts of violence are unacceptable and all stakeholders involved are urged to engage in discussion and resolve issues peacefully”.
In a statement, Williams said: “Government has always been of the view that dialogue must prevail at all times and stakeholders must use the appropriate platforms to raise their concerns. History has taught us that we are a nation that resolves issues through dialogue. The planned protests signals a democracy in action. However, whilst it is within the Constitutional rights of those embarking on protest action, it must be done within the confines of the law.”
The statement added that government had a responsibility to protect property and people who did not wish to participate in protests against intimidation and/or threats of violence. “Violence, damage to property and infringing on others rights and free movement will not be tolerated by law enforcement agencies. Those found guilty of acts of violence will face the might of the law. Government calls on all parties concerned to reach an amicable and speedy resolution.”
Government said it remained hopeful that Ramaphosa’s visit to the area will allow for dialogue which will ultimately lead to a sustainable solution that benefits everyone and brings back stability and good governance. “We call on communities to support interventions by government aimed at providing lasting solutions to the concerns raised by the community. The Back to Basics approach will ensure that all municipalities perform their basic functions without compromise. We need partnerships between government, citizens and civil society to better deal with issues that affect people on a daily basis.”
The North West capital Mahikeng has been shut down amid widespread looting and public violence since Wednesday, as calls for embattled premier Mahumapelo to resign grow louder. Streets have been trashed and buildings and vehicles torched, while the unrest has spread to other towns in the North West.
Ramaphosa cut short his visit to the UK to attend to the violent protests in the North West.