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End in sight over protest for services

By Zinhle Mapumulo | Jul 28, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

THE violent service delivery protest in Mpumalanga could end after a community meeting tomorrow.

THE violent service delivery protest in Mpumalanga could end after a community meeting tomorrow.

Despite the apparent calm of the past few days, residents of Siyathemba township are still angry and have threatened to rampage through the area if the government fails to meet their demands to remove local officials by Friday.

Like many communities around the country the residents want houses, water and proper sanitation. But they also demand that Dipaleseng's mayor and police chief be fired by the end of the week and that the local council be dissolved.

Yesterday community leaders met a high-powered government team, including Home Affairs Deputy Minister Malusi Gigaba and Justice Deputy Minister Andries Nel, to try and defuse the tensions.

Both sides agreed that the residents faced serious issues, but the government appealed for more time to resolve the dispute.

Gigaba emerged from the four-hour meeting to say he was optimistic that the deadline would be dropped.

"The issues raised by the community of Siyathemba are very serious. They cannot be resolved overnight. Community safety, security and liaison MEC Sibongile Manana has committed to set up a task team that will include members selected by the community. We expect the team to be formed by Friday," he said.

Zakhele Maya, who has been part of a committee spearheading the protests, said he now favoured dropping the deadline.

"We are happy that the government is putting an effort into resolving this matter," Maya said.

The protests in Siyathemba started on July 8 and have been marred by xenophobic violence.

About 40 Somali shopkeepers fled their homes and abandoned their businesses after they were attacked.

They are being accommodated at the local police station, but Gigaba and Nel promised to move the displaced Somalis to the town hall.


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