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why sakhile is burning

THE community of Sakhile in Standerton, Mpumalanga, is divided over the main reasons for the ongoing protest.

"This is not about service delivery or corruption as people are made to believe. It is about personal gains. There is this guy called Fanuel Masina who is the instigator of this chaos," said Nomsa Sibisi.

She said Masina influenced residents to protest and demand the resignation of Lekwa municipal mayor Julian Radebe and other councillors, alleging that they were corrupt.

"His fallout with the municipality has cost the community a lot.

My concern is, why did he not raise these issues while he was still getting contracts from the same municipality?" Sibisi asked.

She said the tarring of roads had been disrupted. The library and municipal offices were burnt. The clinic was closed because nurses feared for their lives.

Masina was allegedly given a contract to paint the local hall, which was subsequently burnt down.

Pregnant Mbalenhle Mathebula said: "I cannot go to the clinic for check-ups because it was burnt down. I don't have money to go to Johannesburg. It's wrong."

Mathebula and some residents claim that "local boys" smoke dagga, drink liquor the whole day and then start the protests.

She said the money that would have been used to improve local infrastructure will now have to be used to repair the damaged amenities.

But, other residents said there were legitimate reasons for the protest.

"Electricity bills are too high. Sometimes the municipality switches electricity off without notifying us," said Busi Mnisi.

Council spokesperson Sipho Mkwanazi admitted that allegations were leveled at the mayor and other municipal officials.

"We received a memorandum from the community last year raising issues of corruption and nepotism but investigations had to come to a stop because of the elections," he said.

He said the report about the allegations had been sent to MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs Norman Mokoena.

Police spokesperson Eugene Komaan said 193 people had been arrested and charged with public violence and that "police are patrolling to ensure the safety of the community".

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