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Dozens of protesters arrested in Bronkhorstspruit

Sapa

More than 50 protesters have been arrested in Bronkhorstspruit after a library and a house were set alight by angry residents.

Last week, protesters torched the Zithobeni satellite police station and municipal offices. (Gallo)

More than 50 people were arrested after a library and a house were set alight by disgruntled Bronkhorstspruit residents on Tuesday, Gauteng police said.

"I do not have the total of arrests at the moment but know that police arrested more than 50 people," spokesperson Johannes Japhta said.

"Police are dispersing the crowd who have formed small groups. The situation now [this afternoon] is a little calm and under control." He said the people would appear in the Bronkhorstspruit Magistrate's Court soon on charges of public violence and illegal gathering. More details were not immediately available.

Around 3am on Tuesday, a library and house were set alight. No one was injured and the three people who were in the house at the time escaped when the fire started.

Japhta said it was not known if the home owner worked for the Tshwane municipality, but he had previously been a community policing forum member. The library was completely destroyed, he said. The cause of the fire was being investigated and a case of arson was opened.

Japhta said it was not yet known if a petrol bomb had been used.

Electricity
In a statement on Tuesday, the City of Tshwane said residents of Bronkhorstspruit, Rethabiseng and Zithobeni in Region 7 had been protesting because they were unable to buy prepaid electricity.

Spokesperson Blessing Manale said that before Region 7 merged with the city it used a prepaid electricity system called the Conolog to buy electricity and the system crashed last Monday. "The city has, since the system crashed, called in technicians for repairs but has been advised that the system was irreparable," he said.

"The region has now intensified its roll-out of the migration programme to transfer residents from the old Conolog system to the Supreme system and calls upon all residents from Bronkhorstspruit, Zithobeni and Rethabiseng to come and register for the new system."

He said the city condemned the vandalism and destruction of property and called for calm in the area.

Last week, violent service delivery protests erupted in the area, east of Pretoria. Protesters torched the Zithobeni satellite police station and municipal offices. – Sapa

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