Ventersdorp/Potch merger is not welcome – residents

Residents of Ventersdorp in the North West would suffer if their municipality merged with the Tlokwe municipality in Potchefstroom, they said on Monday.

“I am opposed to the merger of the two municipalities. The administration will be in Potchefstroom and we in Ventersdorp will lose jobs. Our children will never know the history of this town. Everything will be done from Potchefstroom,” said Sakkie Kolberg, a Ventersdorp resident.

He said the move to merge the two municipalities was forced on residents.

“Our concerns about this merger must be considered. If indeed the people shall govern, the leaders must listen to us. The merger is being bulldozed on us. Ordinary people must be heard,” Kolberg said.

Simon Mojafi agreed with him, calling the merger unfair.

“People in Ventersdorp will struggle when Potchefstroom takes over. They will come with their people to occupy offices. What will happened to those occupying offices?” he asked.

Sebolela Mathibedi said those who were against the merger of the two municipalities feared they would not have access to business opportunities.

“Those against the merger of the two towns fear that they will no longer get tenders from the municipality,” she said.

Residents in Ikageng near Potchefstroom said they would be disadvantaged when it came to receiving services. They described Ventersdorp as being a rural area.

The Democratic Alliance was opposing the merger in the high court in Pretoria.

On Friday, the Ventersdorp municipal traffic building was torched following a protest march against the merger.

North West police said the torching of the building was not linked to the protest. A bakkie was also torched near the intersection of the N14 highway and the R30 on Friday night.

Colonel Sabata Mokgwabone said no arrest have been made in connection with the two arson incidents.

Forensic investigators were expected to comb through the burnt building to ascertain the cause of the fire.

The fire was suspected to have started at the back of the building, completely destroying documents. The building’s roof caved in as result of the fire.

The building has been cordoned off and security guards posted around it to prevent people contaminating the scene before forensic investigators started their work.

Locals said they did not know how the fire started.

“I only saw people running, and when I looked I saw smoke and fire shooting into the air. I have no clue what caused the fire,” said Ishmaile Maile.

He said the building might have been torched to frustrate the merger of the Tlokwe and Ventersdorp municipalities. “This may be a sabotage,” he said.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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