Last weekend saw the Moqhaka Local Municipality offices in Steynsrus torched by angry protestors, and as a result the daily functions of the municipality have almost halted, affecting many in the area.The incident occurred after a group of protestors took to the streets since Sunday, breaking and looting foreign owned tuck shops in the area.
According to the municipal spokesperson, Dika Kheswa, during these break-ins, the local community hall was also vandalised and they later learned on Wednesday morning that municipal offices were also burnt during the chaos.
“Our understanding is that the group called #matlwantlwang demands that the municipality address their demands which include, amongst others, the allocation of residential sites. As the municipality, we acknowledge that the issue of the allocation of sites is long overdue and should have been attended long ago, but our challenge is that we cannot allocate sites where there is no infrastructure and this will take some time as we first have to ensure that the land we have identified has proper services lest we will be faced with residents who will still go back to streets demanding services,” said Kheswa.
He said that they have engaged the group of protestors before to hear their plight and agreed that should they feel aggrieved, they should come back to the municipality which they never did and instead opted to cause havoc.Kheswa went on to say that they suspect that the chaos in the area is a political stunt that sprang from Hertzogville, Bothaville and was now coming to Steynsrus.
Dumelang News has learnt that at least fifteen people have been arrested for public violence who were expected to appear in the local magistrates court.
According to police spokesperson, Brigadier Motantsi Makhele, on the morning of April 25, there were violent protests in Steynsrus which resulted in the municipal office being burnt.
“The extent of damage has not yet been confirmed. What could have been used to start the fire is also still under investigations. All we know for now is that burning tyres were used to block the R76 road. The Public Order Police were deployed in the area, and managed to bring the situation under control. Thus far 15 people were arrested, and will face public violence charges, with possibility of an arson charge being added later while investigations regarding the burnt municipal office are continuing,” said Makhele.
He said police are still deployed in the area to monitor the situation – which was normal at the moment but still tense. Meanwhile, the Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Moeketsi Sempe would like to urge residents to refrain from using violence to resolve their concerns, as in the end people will remain with criminal records which might affect their future employment opportunities.