The University of Cape Town on Tuesday morning confirmed reports that “four cars were set alight at .
THE city of Mbombela is experiencing continual traffic jams and disruptions due to the suspension of 23 traffic officers over a pay dispute.
The traffic officers have been blocking the entrance to the Mbombela municipality, formerly Nelspruit, with state vehicles since October 29.
They are demanding their "long overdue" overtime pay.
There is no solution in sight because the suspended cops will only know their fate on February 4.
Fears are mounting that the situation could pose a serious threat to Fifa 2010 Soccer World Cup preparations in the city.
Several traffic lights are malfunctioning at various intersections in the city.
Mbombela municipality spokesperson Joseph Nghala told Sowetan that the matter could have been laid to rest by December 4.
He blamed the traffic officers' union representatives for repeatedly failing to honour dates for scheduled hearings.
"The representatives of their union never honoured the hearing dates and the law demands that we postpone sittings until all sides are represented," Nghala said.
"The hearing was supposed to have taken place on December 4, but due to this reason, it has been postponed until next year."
The protesting traffic officers, dressed in uniform, shouted slogans before they physically removed an official who was trying to drive away in a bid to avoid a confrontation.
The visibly shaken official, Vellie Basson, begged for mercy when he was pulled out of the vehicle that was blocking the gate.
Basson had apparently used a spare key to start the car and this had infuriated the protesting traffic officials.
"We want our money now or someone will die today," said one incensed traffic officer.
The officers accused Mbombela traffic manager Eddie Prollius of being a racist who did not take their concerns seriously.
They claimed that "he failed to pay us overtime money since the beginning of the year 2007".
The Mbombela municipality held a meeting that resulted in the immediate and indefinite suspension of the protesting traffic officers.
Officials from the municipality went from door to door looking for the officers to make them sign letters of suspension.
Most of them refused to sign the letters.
Motorists are concerned about traffic chaos in and around Nelspruit during the busy festive and holiday season.
Nghala hinted that the municipality had approached the provincial department of public works, roads and transport as well as the military for assistance.