Residents say grievances were ignored

ANGRY: Residents blckade roads with rocks and fire. Pic. Boitumelo. Tshehle. © Sowetan.
ANGRY: Residents blckade roads with rocks and fire. Pic. Boitumelo. Tshehle. © Sowetan.

Boitumelo Tshehle

Angry residents of Lonely Park near Mafikeng in North West last week barricaded roads to the village, burnt tyres, threw stones, smashed cars and injured a police officer.

The protestors were angry that the government had not responded to their calls for improved service delivery in the village.

According to Esau Phetoe, leader of a "concerned group of residents", their action was provoked by their treatment by the Department of Local Government and Housing.

Phetoe said they had submitted a memorandum of their grievances to the department and the premier's office two weeks ago, and had been promised an answer within seven days.

When they went to get a response, he said, they were chased away and no answer was given to them. They then returned to the village, burnt tyres, placed stones on the roads and sang freedom songs and slogans to highlight their grievances.

The protestors also hurled stones at passing vehicles. Four cars, including two police vehicles, were badly damaged. A police inspector and two other residents were injured.

Phetoe said the protestors' grievances related to service delivery and they had demanded to be involved in development projects in the village to reduce unemployment.

They also wanted a high school and a clinic built.

Mandla Mathebula, spokesman for the department, said they had undertaken to respond to the protesting residents' grievances in seven days, but "we meant seven working days".

Mathebula said the residents had been chased away because they had been drunk and very disorderly.

Police spokesman Job Mothibi said eight people had been arrested and would appear in the Mmabatho magistrates' court today.