Update – Commuters left stranded amid Tshwane violence
The Tshwane metro police have described the looting and vandalism of tuckshops on Tuesday night as a mess.
Speaking to The Citizen on Wednesday morning, metro police spokesperson Isaac Mahamba said the looting of tuckshops happened at most of the townships that have been gripped by the protests.
He said while most of the affected areas were somewhat calm on Wednesday morning, many commuters were left stranded as the volumes of taxi and bus operations was scaled down following the torching of more than 20 buses.
“I think people were just taking precautionary measures.
“Law enforcers are still monitoring the areas closely,” Mahamba said.
He said some streets and roads were still barricaded with rocks and rubble in Soshanguve and Ga-Rankuwa.
The Mabopane highway which was closed to traffic on Tuesday had been reopened.
While the situation in Tshwane townships appears to have calmed down immensely, there are still pockets of isolated unrest and at least one township had to go through the night in darkness as Eskom technicians were not allowed to fix the problem.
The violence has continued in Mamelodi, Soshanguve, Mabopane and elsewhere. Atteridgeville is particularly calmer. A number of roads throughout the capital remain blocked.
The police’s Console Tleane said calm had been restored in Hammanskraal too.
He said they had seen “a disproportionate amount of” looting against, once again, foreign-owned shops, but he did not say if this was related to xenophobia. He said a newly built school had also been vandalised.
He said that a shop in Mamelodi had been burnt.
He said the only road closure was in the precinct of the Daspooort tunnel. He said officials would be cleaning up rubble on the streets. He said the security cluster had doubled its efforts and would coordinate their efforts.
He said they were determining if the Tshwane bus service would be allowed to resume.
Eskom have confirmed that a 33 000-volt transformer breaker in the Mapopane East substation tripped early on Tuesday evening, plunging the protest-torn township in Tshwane into darkness.
The power utility said this had impacted on a number of substations around the Tshwane township, including Vuka, Winterveld, Nonyane and Makgatho substations, affecting approximately 25 000 customers.
Eskom technicians were allegedly chased away by protesting masses when they tried to respond to the troubled substation.
“We would like to put it on record that this is the same substation where our staff members were chased away by the community earlier because of the protest action that happened today in Tshwane,” Eskom said in a statement.
— silindelo masikane (@Slindelo_M) June 22, 2016
“In the interest of mitigating this challenge, security has since been dispatched to escort our field team to investigate.”
Tshwane residents in townships including Atteridgeville, Soshanguve, Hammanskraal and Mamelodi, on Tuesday morning went on a frenzied rampage, torching vehicles, closing down streets and looting shops in protest against the imposition of an ANC mayoral candidate.
The violence was over the decision by the ANC to deploy former Cabinet minister Thoko Didiza as the party’s Tshwane candidate ahead of the upcoming local government elections instead of the incumbent Kgosientso Ramokgopa, whom protesting residents prefer.
Government said yesterday the army would not be deployed.
The SABC reported on Tuesday night that looting had intensified in Mabopane as more and more shops were being vandalised.
“Mabopane residents have started looting foreign owned shops and other stores, including PEP and Barnetts,” journalist Tshepiso Moche tweeted.
Eskom said it remained committed to ensuring that customers had a continuous supply of electricity and would provide regular updates on the state of the power system through various media platforms.
“We urge customers to report any illegal connections or power outages to the Eskom Contact Centre.”
Meanwhile, outgoing Tshwane mayor Ramokgopa on Tuesday said the violence unleashed across the capital city could not continue in his name.
“The message we are simply conveying is that the torching of buildings, destruction of assets and threatening life and limb is at variance with what the ANC represents. It can’t be done in the name of any ANC leader including myself. It’s an untenable situation which is unacceptable,” Ramokgopa told reporters in strife-ravaged Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria.
“This must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. There is no amount of grievance or displeasure that can merit the kind of responses that we have seen in parts of this city, including here.”
He said the other message when the high-level ANC delegation including Ramokgopa, ANC Tshwane provincial chairperson Paul Mashatile and ANC national executive committee member Aaron Motsoaledi met Atteridgeville ANC members was about mobilising support behind mayoral candidate Thoko Didiza.
“I think it’s important that such a message comes through, that people need to have an appreciation of ANC processes. The culmination of those processes is what the NEC communicated to us.”
Ramokgopa appealed for “peace and tranquillity” across Pretoria.
“There must not be disruptions to people’s daily lives. A decision (to have Didiza as mayoral candidate) is here before us and we have to respect it. We don’t just have to respect it, but to support it enthusiastically,” said Ramokgopa.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said on Tuesday that the violence was unavoidable and would have happened regardless of which candidate was picked. He told eNCA that “There would have been a similar response. Any of the factions would’ve run amok.”
Ramokgopa said the disgruntled party members needed to understand that “nothing would be resolved under such conditions”.
“If you continue torching, there is no business why your grievances should be listened to. Law enforcement agencies must ensure that they have a grip on the situation,” he said.
Ramokgopa said ANC leaders would visit branches across Tshwane on Wednesday to emphasise Didiza’s candidacy.
Violence has rocked Pretoria since Sunday as news filtered in indicating that Didiza would be named as the city’s mayoral candidate for the ANC, ahead of Ramokgopa.
Residents said they were not happy with Didiza and wanted Ramokgopa to remain in his position. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has said the anger is worryingly related to tribalism, as Didiza was born outside of Gauteng.
On Tuesday morning, huge boulders were placed on the usually busy WF Nkomo Street leading into Atteridgeville. A delivery truck had been torched.
Hours earlier, a large police contingent, including members of the tactical response team, went into Atteridgeville and unblocked the many roads littered with rubble and dirt.
On Monday, three metro police officers had to run for their lives when they were attacked by the protesters.
Additional reporting by ANA