With just eight days to go before the local government elections, the DA in Midvaal says it is confident of continuing to govern the local municipality, despite violent protests that have gripped the area.
What started out as a labour dispute between the Midvaal Local Municipality and the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), turned into street protests by residents of the Sicelo informal settlement demanding better service delivery.
Irate protesters barricaded roads with burning tyres, rocks and rubble and the busy R59 highway was closed to traffic for the better part of last week.
Amid the dispute in recent weeks, property was also damaged at the municipal offices. The service-delivery protest was marred with violence to such an extent that a police Nyala ferrying, among others, Gauteng MEC for community safety Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, was petrol-bombed on Friday.
Midvaal mayor Bongani Baloyi was expected to address residents at the weekend, but was told it was not safe to do so. Baloyi has allegedly been in hiding after he claimed he received threats on his life.
The Citizen visited his office yesterday, but he was not present.
In a telephone interview, Baloyi said: “We have been in touch with the community ward councillor to assess the situation in the area, but the feedback from the police is that it would still be difficult for us to have discussions with community leaders from Ward 10, some of whom are intoxicated.
“However, we are monitoring the situation.”
Commenting on the labour issues involving Samwu, Baloyi said the “no work, no pay” policy had already been implemented.
He stressed that the recent strike by employees affiliated to the union in question was illegal.
Meanwhile, a huge police presence remained in the area yesterday. Several police vehicles were parked on the R59 and officers were stationed next to shops.