Cyril Ramaphosa heads to Mahikeng as anti-Supra protests intensify

North West protesters burn tyres as they call for premier Supra Mahumapelo to step down.
North West protesters burn tyres as they call for premier Supra Mahumapelo to step down.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and ANC heavyweights planned to visit the North West on Friday as protests calling for service delivery and the resignation of Premier Supra Mahumapelo continued.

The Presidency said in a statement that Ramaphosa would address an “urgent meeting” with the ANC‚ Leagues Alliance and the ANC caucus in the province on Friday at 12pm in Mahikeng.

The party’s secretary-general Ace Magashule‚ deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte and national executive committee (NEC) members in the province will join Ramaphosa.

Violent protests erupted in Mahikeng on Wednesday. The provincial capital on Thursday resembled a ghost town after some shops were looted and closed their doors.

Entrances to Mahikeng were blockaded with rocks and burning tyres.

North West police spokesperson Adele Myburgh said nine people had been arrested since Wednesday.

A drive around the town’s CBD showed litter strewn in a number of streets with only a few cars and residents visible in the streets. However‚ there was a heavy police presence as a number of police vans were seen doing the rounds.

Mahumapelo’s office on Thursday called for an end to the violent protests. His spokesperson Brian Setswambung said the protests aim to discredit Mahumapelo.

“[It is] an anti-Supra Mahumapelo political campaign which seeks to intimidate residents of Mahikeng‚” Setswambung said. “The campaign is also characterised by criminality as private properties of some citizens are being looted.”

The Hawks raided Mahumapelo’s office last month amid investigations linked to leaked documents that implicate Mahumapelo’s office in maladministration‚ fraud and corruption.

Pharmacists warned the protests have led to a medicine shortage in the province.

SA Association of Hospital and Institutional Pharmacists (Saahip) said in a statement its members condemned the impact the protests are having on provincial health.

“The strike has resulted in major disruption of the supply of medicines. It is understood that the grievances of the protesters must be addressed‚ but the action cannot be condoned when the lives‚ health and well-being of residents are compromised.”

Saahip said closing healthcare facilities and medicine and supply shortages at provincial depots can have “devastating consequences” for patients.

“Not only is death a possibility in some cases‚ but patients who have been stabilised on chronic medicines risk having inadequate control of their ongoing medical condition‚ while patients needing medicines for acute conditions face the possibility of not receiving medicines at all.”

- Additional reporting by Penwell Dlamini and Naledi Shange.

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