Community members set up illegal tollgates, demand motorists to cough up
Motorists travelling on the N11 near Groblersdal and Marble Hall in Limpopo are being stopped and told to pay an “access fee” at illegal “tollgates” or risk their cars being set alight.
Police spokesperson Brig Motlafela Mojapelo said several “illegal tollgates” had been constructed with rocks, tyres and branches.
Motorists are requested to pay a fee ranging from R10 to R100 to pass, he said.
“We are aware of the situation. We have deployed public order police to attend to it,” Mojapelo said.
Calls to the Limpopo department of transport went unanswered on Thursday morning.
It is unclear whether the extortion is linked to a service-delivery protest this week. Some people speculated as much on social media, with one referring to it as a “protest with benefits”.
One motorist who passed through the area on Tuesday said the community was protesting about a lack of running water.
The man, who asked not to be named, said roads had been blocked throughout the municipality.
“Motorists aren’t allowed to pass, but the scavenger protesters would let you pass provided you gave them money or something. We didn’t pay the money. We lived in the area years ago, so we took back routes.
“No ways are we paying R100 to get home for a municipality error that we have no control over,” he said.
N11 between Groblersdal and Marble Hall. Criminals criminals have set-up a "toll gate" and are extorting money. Drivers are forced to pay between R10 and R20 or they threaten to burn the vehicle. Reports say 12 of these "toll gates" were set-up today. @MbalulaFikile pic.twitter.com/KBzoYkWco8— Yusuf Abramjee (@Abramjee) January 29, 2020
Other social media users took to Twitter to share their experiences.
“Our driver had R300 taken from him. He said small children were drunk and intimidating drivers. Unacceptable,” a comment read.
“Between Groblersdal and Dennilton. It’s true, I use that road. It’s frustrating because police know about it but don't come. We poor drivers have to face that or else,” said another.
Earlier this week, protesters in Dennilton, Limpopo, barricaded several roads over the provision of water. Schools were shut and the local shopping centre was closed. The community built a wall-like structure with bricks across the middle of the R25 towards Groblersdal.
Premier Stanley Mathabatha's spokesperson, Kenny Mathivha, said there was a water crisis throughout the province, not only in Groblersdal.
“We are a water-scarce province. There is no area where there is not a water crisis in Limpopo. The dams around Polokwane are at 15%, even after the recent rains.
“We don’t have water underground and we don’t have water anywhere.”