Mashaba says 'criminal elements' hijacking service delivery protests

Pep Store in Freedom Park was looted on Monday. Picture Credit: Thulani Mbele
Pep Store in Freedom Park was looted on Monday. Picture Credit: Thulani Mbele

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba says there is no quick fix to the service delivery backlogs that have sparked violent protests in the city.

“We recognise the frustrations of this community‚ following years of mismanagement and neglect. We hear their pleas for dignified housing and economic opportunities‚” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

Violent protests saw residents barricading roads and there were running battles on Tuesday with police in and around Eldorado Park and Ennerdale. Police arrested at least 50 people as shops and convenience stores at petrol stations were looted.

Mashaba‚ who met with law enforcement authorities on Tuesday evening‚ blamed “criminal elements” for escalating the violence.

 “Tragically‚ the legitimate concerns of the community have become hijacked by criminal elements who would seek to use the protests for their own ends. A number of shops have been looted and businesses negatively affected‚” he said.

The provincial leadership of the police and the Johannesburg Metro Police Department have formed a joint operation to “restore peace and order in the community”‚ he added.

“There are no quick fixes to the enormous infrastructure and service delivery backlogs we have inherited‚ however we are committed to ensuring that the forgotten people of our city are given the attention they deserve.”

Finance MMC Rabelani Dagada will table the city budget for the 2017/18 financial year later this month which would‚ he said‚ “be our first opportunity to ensure that the forgotten people of Johannesburg are placed at the heart of our agenda.”

Residents of Ennerdale have reportedly agreed to call off their protests. But fresh protest action was reported early on Wednesday at Itireleng informal settlement near Laudium.



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