No premier so Crowd riots

Action: Premier David Mabuza says it is 'Business Unusual'. 18/05/09. © Sowetan.
Action: Premier David Mabuza says it is 'Business Unusual'. 18/05/09. © Sowetan.

HOUSES belonging to a mayor and three councillors were torched at the weekend in Mpumalanga by angry residents "tired of empty promises".

HOUSES belonging to a mayor and three councillors were torched at the weekend in Mpumalanga by angry residents "tired of empty promises".

Residents of Piet Retief and surrounding areas demonstrated over "the lack of service delivery, nepotism, incomplete roads, selling of RDP houses by councillors - and rate hikes.

They had submitted a memorandum listing their grievances to the Mkhondo municipality council and were told that Premier David Mabuza would talk to them on Sunday.

The Mandla Magudulela Stadium was packed to capacity by 10am but Mabuza did not show up.

He was excitedly expected to arrive with MEC for corporative governance and traditional affairs Norman Mokwena and district mayor Andries Gamede.

All hell broke loose when residents were told the premier was not coming "due to other commitments".

The residents torched the local clinic, library, community hall, three trucks and two cars belonging to the Mkhondo municipality.

A house belonging to Mkhondo mayor Mary Khumalo and homes belonging to three councillors were also set alight.

Community leader Wandile Nkonyane told Sowetan yesterday: "We were expecting the premier the whole day and it was only announced at about 3pm that he was not coming.

"That is what caused a peaceful protest to turn nasty."

Ntime Skosana, provincial government spokesperson, said the premier had been unable to attend "but residents' issues are receiving priority and we accordingly urge them not to resort to violence as a means of resolving civic matters."

Mabuza was last night expected to visit the community but at the time of going to press he had still not arrived.

lTwo men who were part of the protesting crowd were reportedly shot dead after security guards and police allegedly used live ammunition to disperse toy-toying residents.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Sibongile Nkosi said they were investigating to find out whether the two had died as a result of police action.

"I can confirm we have received a report that our men used live bullets during a scuffle with the community and we will investigate the claims," Nkosi said.

The names of the diseased had not been released by yesterday since family members have not yet been informed of their deaths.

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