Uproar over demolishing of houses

POLICE fired rubber bullets and used water cannon to disperse angry Robega villagers in Phokeng outside Rustenburg on Friday.

The standoff follows the demolition of the villagers' houses and alleged continued harassment by tribal leader Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi at the weekend.

Six Robega families had their dwellings demolished by Red Ants, on orders by the Royal Bafokeng Administration (RBA) under Molotlegi, for allegedly squatting on the Bafokeng land.

During the Friday protests the villagers said they were tired of being harassed by Molotlegi, whom they claim had cut off their water supply.

Eight villagers - four men and four women - were arrested for public violence and were released on warning a day later, according to local leaders.

Police said the eight were expected to appear in court today but the leaders said they would appear in the Tlhabane magistrate's court on November 10.

Colonel Junior Metsi of the North West provincial police also confirmed that the police used rubber bullets and water cannon to disperse a group of about 600 villagers, who had blocked the main road on Friday. This was after their villages were left without water the previous day.

She said the villagers believed that Molotlegi was responsible for the closure of the water supply. But even after officials explained that the closure was due to a burst pipe during construction work at the mine, they insisted on marching to the mine.

After the shootings family representatives told Sowetanthat they were not squatting since the sites were allocated to them by the village council. They said they did not receive any warning from the RBA and were now accommodated at the local satellite police station and the homes of local leaders.

But Kgosana Modisaotsile Mokate o f the RBA said the land on which Robega village was erected "belongs to RBA and was allotted to the Bafokeng in 1996".

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