Villagers freed after service delivery protest march

THE situation remained calm yesterday in Mohlaletsi in the Sekhukhune area of Limpopo after the release of 150 villagers.

THE situation remained calm yesterday in Mohlaletsi in the Sekhukhune area of Limpopo after the release of 150 villagers.

They were arrested on Tuesday and released on Wednesday. The villagers had been charged with public violence after a service delivery protest march on Tuesday.

They had accused the Fetakgomo municipality of failing to provide them with basic services.

Local roads were rendered unusable during the protest march. Schooling in the area came to a halt when the villagers allegedly forced pupils out of their classes to join the march.

The community has accused the municipality of failing to provide them with basic services, particularly clean water.

They claim the municipality had promised to deliver services and clean water before last year's general election.

They claim that they were supplied with water in tanks before and during elections, but that the supply had since dried up. The villagers claim they are now forced to buy water from people who own boreholes.

Protest leader Matshepo Mampuru claimed that most of those arrested were schoolchildren who had been released without being charged.

The other suspects had their case postponed to March 18.

According to Mampuru mayor Coleman Marota had allegedly instructed the police to arrest the protesters despite the fact that they had not damaged property.

Mampuru said a community meeting was due to be held last night at which they would decide on a way forward after the mayor's behaviour.

"We are fighting for a just cause and believe no amount of intimidation is going to stop us going forward," Mampuru said.

She said the march was first undertaken on Tuesday last week and that this week's was triggered by the municipality's failure to respond to their demands.

Approached for comment, Marota said though the march was illegal he had informed the community that the local water supply was insufficient.

He said the local water purification plant was being upgraded to ensure sufficient provision "soon".

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