Moutse snubs MEC

VOLATILE: Moutse residents chant slogans against incorporation into Limpopo. Pic. Kopano Tlape. © Sowetan.
VOLATILE: Moutse residents chant slogans against incorporation into Limpopo. Pic. Kopano Tlape. © Sowetan.

Sipho Masombuka

Limpopo MEC for roads, traffic and safety, Justice Pitso, and Lionel Seloane, mayor of Elias Motsoaledi municipality, were met by scores of chanting protesters outside the OR Tambo Stadium where he was to address an imbizo yesterday.

Residents boycotted the imbizo chanting slogans against their area's incorporation into Limpopo.

The police turned out in full force and a helicopter hovered over the venue to monitor the volatile situation.

Residents started gathering outside the stadium at 10am and erupted into singing Siyaya phambili - We are going forward - when the MEC's convoy arrived four hours later.

Community leaders have refused to meet officialsfrom Limpopo. They were further angered by the detention of another leader, Seun Mogoshi, who was arrested during a community meeting yesterday morning.

Chairman of the Moutse Demarcation Forum, William Ramphisa, said Mogoshi had been charged with incitement.

"The government is playing a dangerous game by ignoring our demands. We will resist this move until it is reversed," he said.

Pitso told the handful of people who attended the gathering to raise their concerns regarding roads, traffic and safety and not be intimidated by protesters.

Departmental spokesman Boikie Tsedu said the aim of the MEC's visit was to outline issues of road maintenance, safety and security.

He said the demarcation issue was a "competency of the department of provincial and local government".

He said they understood "our people" and had come to discuss their concerns.

Tsedu said: " If building a R1million community traffic centre employing 20 residents and training 80 students in traffic management is poor service delivery, we do not know what service delivery is.

"We are not going to run away from our people because of the volatility of the situation."

A meeting on Sunday at the OR Tambo Stadium between school governing bodies and other stakeholders, including the leaders of the Moutse Demarcation Forum, had resulted in children returning to school.

But yesterday a group of youths forced children out of classrooms at Kgothala Secondary School and, fearing for the safety of their pupils and the staff, other schools in the area sent children home.

The residents dispersed peacefully after the imbizo.