No arrests have been made following the arson attack on the Bapo-Ba-Mogale tribal office in Bapong near Brits, North West police said on Tuesday.
“A case of arson was registered with the Mooinooi SAPS [SA Police Service]. No one has been arrested yet and investigation continues,” said Lieutenant Colonel Pelonomi Makau.
The tribal office was torched by irate members of the Unemployed Forum after they were allegedly not paid for three weeks.
They were employed by the tribal authority to clean graveyards, roads and government buildings.
On Thursday, they torched the tribal office and the R556 road towards N4. They were ultimately paid late on Friday night.
The Bapo-Ba-Mogale Traditional Council condemned the torching of the tribal offices and said it had noted with great regret the carnage manifesting itself within the Bapo community.
“The Traditional council herewith condemns with the strongest terms the torching of the community tribal office by the hooligans and criminals perpetuating these violent acts. We also condemns the burning of Bapo buses and vehicles, and the intimidation of traditional council members and its employees,” said council secretary Reuben Xinishe in a statement.
He explained that the traditional council initiated a poverty alleviation project on October 23, expecting money from the Lonmin mining company. The company normally pays the money in November, but refused to release the funds, citing letters addressed to President Jacob Zuma from Bapo Ba Mogale.
The Bapo Ba Mogale and the Mining Forum of SA, a civil society group, wrote to President Jacob Zuma and the department of mineral resources to request the suspension of the Lonmin mining operation for failing to comply with its social and labour commitments.
In reply, Lonmin said it has awarded significant procurement contracts with a combine gross value of R1.65 billion to the Bapo Ba Mogale
These contracts have been running for between five and eight years. The projects include stockpile management, ore transport, passenger transport and Personal Protective equipment (PPE) supply.
The traditional council then borrowed money from the community business to pay youth who participated in the poverty alleviation project but the money was not enough to pay the full stipends to participants.
He said all those who did not receive their full stipend would be paid in due course.
Lonmin was expected to pay Bapo Ba Mogale on November 25, with payments to community members expected to be effected on November 30.