35 are held over services protest

MPUMALANGA police have been accused of denying two children the right to be breast-fed by their arrested mothers.

Their mothers were among people arrested by police on Wednesday during service delivery protests at Shabalala Trust.

A female traffic officer is also among the 35 people, mostly women, arrested for public violence in Hazyview.

A total of 30 women and five men were still behind bars at Hazyview police station yesterday afternoon.

Other members of the community were talking to lawyers in an attempt to have those arrested freed on bail.

A community leader, Mandla Mthethwa, said the police had overreacted when they raided houses, assaulted and arrested people.

"A traffic officer, who was on her way to work was also arrested for nothing, though she was not part of the protest," Mthethwa said.

He said members of the community were refused access to the police station to either see or give food to their arrested relatives.

"At least two young children were taken to the police station so that their arrested mothers could breast-feed them but the police refused," Mthethwa claimed.

This week alone saw protests taking place in five different areas, including Simile Trust near Sabie, Kabokweni and Shabalala Trust.

The latest protests at Shabalala Trust started in the early hours of Wednesday morning, with members of the community blocking roads.

The road from Hazyview to Kruger National Park was on fire as members of the community burnt tyres continuously.

Tourists, both foreign and local, had to be turned away to avoid endangering their lives.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Superintendent Abie Khoabane yesterday confirmed the arrests of the 35 people but said he was not sure about the claims that police had refused to allow mothers to breast-feed their the children.