The Executive Mayor of Ngwathe Local Municipality, Cllr. Joey Mochela, has denounced what she said were land grabs by a group of residents from Mokwallo township in Vredefort, last week. According to Mochela, the exercise was nothing but a ploy to undermine processes of the municipality which are currently underway in respect to allocation of sites, not in Vredefort only, but the entire municipality.
“We cannot allow people to illegally occupy municipal land without having been given permission to do so,” said
Mochela. Following the illegal land grabs, the municipality sent a delegation to stop the group, however, the group vented their anger by looting shops owned by foreign nationals from Pakistan and Bangladesh. Police intervened and managed to arrest about ten people. Police spokesperson, Sergeant Ian Gaobepe, confirmed that arrests have been made where the group faced charges ranging from public violence to theft as well as possession of stolen goods.
“Some of them have already appeared in the magistrate’s court and are still in custody while investigations continue,” said Gaobepe. Fearing for their lives, some of the shop owners seek shelter at some private property where they sleep and keep their stock. According to the municipal’s spokesperson, Steven Naale, the municipality visited the business men at the shelter where they assured them of interventions that the municipality is working on. “As a municipality, we believe that it is our duty to ensure that we assist our local business people at situations like these,” said Naale.
At the time of going to print, the mayor told Dumelang News that another meeting was scheduled for Friday to see to it that calm is restored in Mokwallo.