Update from Vuwani
Vuwani – In the past few days, law enforcers have been trying in vain to difuse the protest action which has now turned volatile. Accessibility to the area has also been almost impossible as disgruntled and angry protesters who are opposing a decision by the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB), that Vuwani be merged with Malamulele and other areas in creating a new municipality, blocked all roads with rocks and rubble.
A meeting attended by community leaders, police officials and other stakeholders at the Chief’s place which sought to find a solution to the protest could not yield positive results as community leaders vowed to continue with the demonstrations until the MDB reverses its decision.
Speaking to The Citizen, police spokesperson, warrant officer Elijah Malatjie said there were also incidents where motorists’ vehicles were being pelted with stones by protesters. “My state car was also hit by rocks thrown by protesters on my way to the office from the meeting at the Chief’s place. “As the police, the situation of violence currently prevailing in the area, is a matter of serious concern and it is for this reason that we also call on the protesters to stop with the violence and acts of criminality,” Malatjie appealed.
Several shops and parts of a local fire station were also damaged during the violent protest which started on Sunday. On Monday, protesters implemented what they call a “total shutdown” of services, which has led to pupils being barred from going to school and community members not being able to go to work as all taxis and buses are non-operational. Several police vehicles were also damaged, and several nyala’s (armoured vehicles) were also seen parked at the local police station with flat tyres.”
The situation here, especially at night is not good, because whenever the police try to disperse the protesters, they run into the bushes, where they set traps by leaving nails on the ground and that’s how some of the police vehicles get flat tyres,” he said.
Malatjie said so far, two hardware stores and two taverns were broken into, where alcohol was stolen. “The police managed to arrest one suspect who was in possession of stolen alcohol,” he said.
Meanwhile Minister of Corporate Governance and Traditional Affairs, Pravin Gordhan condemned the violence that have characterised the protest action, describing it as totally unacceptable.
Gordhan is likely to visit the area on Wednesday.