South Africa 17.2.2016 01:14 pm

Violence continues at Middelburg protests

Protesters at the Steve Tshwete Municipality in Middelburg, Mpumalanga torch palm trees outside the municipal buildings. Photo:  Middelburg Observer/YouTube.

Protesters at the Steve Tshwete Municipality in Middelburg, Mpumalanga torch palm trees outside the municipal buildings. Photo: Middelburg Observer/YouTube.

Residents of Middelburg have been warned to steer clear of the municipal building until matters are resolved.

There was chaos at the Steve Tshwete Municipal buildings in Middelburg, Mpumalanga on Wednesday as protests by traffic officers and other employees supporting them continued for a second week.

Although a court order had been obtained by the municipality, protesters refused to stay at least 500m away from municipal buildings, as stipulated by the order, Middelburg Observer reported.

On Tuesday night the street outside the municipal buildings were trashed, spurring the municipality to call for harsh action by the police against the perpetrators.

The order came after Friday’s violent lockdown of the civic centre by employees supporting a group of traffic officers who had been served suspension notices.

More than 100 employees blockaded all entrances to the municipality while shop stewards cornered Mayor Mike Masina and acting municipal manager Mandla Mnguni in the mayor’s office on Friday.

The traffic wardens were served with suspension notices last week after they took part in an impromptu strike a forthnight ago, during which members of the public were pepper-sprayed in the civic centre and licencing department.

The officers had initially demanded overtime and danger pay, but are now calling for the withdrawal of the suspension notices.

They further demand that no disciplinary actions be taken against them, as it may lead to their dismissal for unlawful conduct.

Protesters gathered at the municipal licencing offices today, again blockading entrances and reportedly intimidating the public.

Felicia Nkosi, who owns her own business in the CBD, said that she was threatened by a throng of protesters to close shop, or face destruction of property.

Earlier this week, Mnguni urged the public to open criminal charges at the police station for intimidation and assault against officers they can individually identify.

“Not all of the municipality’s traffic officials took part in the scandalous protest action,” he said.

There have been continuous complaints by members of the public against traffic officers, which ultimately resulted in the municipality sending officers to anger management courses during 2013 and 2014.

Masina said he would address the situation publicly after a meeting with management scheduled for this morning.

Meanwhile, residents have been warned to steer clear of the municipality until matters are resolved.

 – Caxton News Service

 

04

today in print