guard beaten to death

FLASHBACK: Back Door Trust residents near Nelspruit staging a delivery protest. Pic: ANDREW HLONGWANE. 21/09/2009. © Sowetan.
FLASHBACK: Back Door Trust residents near Nelspruit staging a delivery protest. Pic: ANDREW HLONGWANE. 21/09/2009. © Sowetan.

A security guard was beaten to death and a police officer's house was torched yesterday in yet another violent service delivery protest in Mpumalanga.

Twenty people have since been arrested. The police at this stage say they don't know why the house of the police officer, Eric Masinga, was targeted.

Police said the guard, whose name has been withheld, knocked down a protester in Sabie village near Lydenburg in the early hours of yesterday morning.

"After he knocked down the protester, fellow protesters grabbed him out of his car and beat him to a pulp," said provincial police spokesperson Superintendent Abie Khoabane.

"Police managed to rescue him from an angry crowd and it was while he was being transported to hospital that he died," he said.

Khoabane said 20 people were arrested for murder, malicious damage to property and public violence.

"They will appear in court soon," he said.

All activities, including schooling and public transport, came to a halt in the area when hundreds of residents gathered at 5.30am and barricaded the streets with burning tyres and other materials.

"We are fed up with the inferior services that we are subjected to, despite the good promises (made) 15 years ago," said Kgothatso Mampa, a community member.

Among other demands, the community wants their municipal council - constituted by the ANC and the DA - immediately dissolved.

They also have demanded that "unspecified" outstanding debts pre-1994 be scrapped.

Yesterday's protest was one of 20 that Mpumalanga has seen in various municipalities since January. The protests saw Premier David Mabuza send a ministerial task team to investigate the Mkhondo, Pixley ka Seme and Thaba Chweu municipalities.

Mkhondo municipal spokesperson Vusi Mashabane told Sowetan he believed Mabuza's intervention had begun to bear results.

"We are engaged in a process of aligning the development plan where communities' inputs are integrated into the planning process," said Mashabane

"With the recent visits by the National Council of Provinces and the South African Local Government Association delegation, there has been a clarity of roles and responsibilities of council and its political office bearers."

Mabuza said efforts to improve service delivery in the province were under way.

"But our people need to be aware of the fact that the current administration is still new and we need their help to improve their conditions."