Hundreds of unemployed people near Brits in North West Province gathered at the entrance of Bapo Ba Mogale Palace on Tuesday demanding the traditional council recognise their forum as representing the unemployed when it came to relationships with mining companies in the area.
“We want a letter from the traditional council that confirms that Tshepo “Stepestepe” Molaole is recognised as the chairperson of the Bapo Ba Mogale Unemployed Forum,” said Reuben Kaise, one of the group’s leaders.
He said Molaole needed letter as a prove to mining companies that he was credible to represent unemployed people and negotiate on their behalf because there was another parallel structure of unemployed people in Bapong.
“We tabled our request to the traditional council, we have been at the palace peacefully three times, we did not even uproot a piece of grass, until last week [Wednesday] when we were attacked at the palace by members of the other unemployed forum, we outnumbered and defeated them,” Kaise said.
North West police said four vehicles and a bus were burnt on September 27. The bus was partially burnt. “There are no arrests at the moment. We are investigating malicious damage to property,” Lieutenant Colonel Amanda Funani said on Monday.
Kaise said the traditional council had requested that their meeting last week, to be postponed to October 3. The meeting was to discuss unemployment and poverty alleviation projects in Bapong.
However, confusion arose when on arrival at the palace, the group was told the meeting would take place at the tribal office in Bapong. The group at the palace wanted to go to the tribal office but, those who were still in Bapong insisted on going to the palace to be addressed by the traditional council.
About 300 people gathered at the palace. The traditional council sent out a letter requesting a meeting with delegations from the two unemployed bodies. The meeting was planned for Wednesday at the tribal office.
The traditional council said it was aware of the parallel unemployed representation structures and was mediating with the view of finding a lasting solution. “In our area the unemployment structure relies on the tribal leadership to assist them in creating employment and sourcing jobs from the mines they believe are on their land,” said council spokesperson Vladimir Mogale.