conflict in MANDENI

TENSION remains high in Mandeni on the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, where 16 people are expected to appear in court today to face charges of public violence.

Angry residents have vowed to continue fighting for improved services despite the arrest of some of them.

Protesters threw stones at motorists and set up barricades with burning tyres along the N2 freeway passing Mande towards Richards Bay.

They demanded the resignation of all local councillors.

Police from surrounding towns have now been deployed in the area to monitor the situation.

Police spokesperson Phindile Radebe said the situation was under control and the 16 people arrested on Friday would appear in the nearby Nyoni magistrate's court.

In a memorandum, the community accused local councillors of pocketing money meant for development.

A concerned resident, Thulani Magwaza, said the community was fed-up with empty government promises.

"Protesting is the only language the government understands.

"We need the mayor and his councillors to resign because they had failed to deliver services to the poor community," Magwaza said.

But provincial department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs spokesperson Mthatheni Mabaso said they were very surprised by the protest.

Mabaso said MEC Nomusa Dube had deployed a team to deal with the concerns of the community.

"We met the people last Tuesday and promised to address their concerns," Mabaso said.

"There was no need for them to go on the rampage while their issues are being looked at by the MEC."

Meanwhile, the social development offices in the area were also torched, destroying all the pension grant applications inside when unknown people petrol-bombed a mobile government office.

This follows the recent removal of a security company that was guarding the offices.

Provincial MEC Meshack Radebe said his department uncovered the fact that the company was not registered.

The damage is estimated at R1,6 million.