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Defiant residents keep protesting

Getrude Makhafola

Gauteng and North West residents have vowed to continue protesting against poor service delivery until government accedes to their demands.

Sebokeng residents barricaded roads into the area with stones, trees and burning tyres. (Gallo)

Police had their hands full on Friday as defiant residents continued to protest in several areas in North West and Gauteng.

Protesters barricaded roads in Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg, and in Hebron and Majakaneng in North West, and promised to continue protests until government acceded to their demands.

In Boiketlong in Sebokeng, residents demanded that President Jacob Zuma come and address them, not Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane.

"We want Msholozi [Zuma] himself, not Nomvula," said resident Shimane Mohau on Friday. "Zuma must come and see what his ANC was doing to its people."

Mokonyane was scheduled to address the protesters.

The protests in Sebokeng started on Wednesday, with residents barricading roads with stones, trees and burning tyres.

They were demanding better housing. Protester Lerata Rabolila (27) was shot dead in the area during the violent protests.

Burning buildings
Police in Bronkhorstspruit, east of Pretoria, said that area was quiet on Friday.

A week-long protest by residents saw several buildings torched, including a clinic, hall and library.

They protested over their inability to buy electricity following a merger of municipalities that resulted in a changed purchasing system. They also called for better service delivery.

Business owners in Bronkhorstspruit held a meeting with Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa to voice concerns over workers and business safety, and a loss of profit as a result of the protests.

Ramokgopa assured the business owners that the police would increase patrols and ensure that workers were safe going to and from work, Tshwane spokesperson Blessing Manale said on Friday.

Government solutions
Human settlements MEC Ntombi Mekgwe told journalists at a media briefing on Friday that the solutions to the problems residents faced were constant engagement and facing "challenges head on".

"There are a number of avenues which are available to members of the community to raise their concerns," she said.

Mekgwe urged residents to be responsible and not to stop children from going to school or sick people from gaining access to medicine or hospitals.

She said 50 service delivery protests had been recorded in Gauteng since last year. "In terms of cost for the damage ... for the department alone, it's about R55-million."

She said the figure could be higher for the municipalities where infrastructure was damaged.

Resolute residents
Residents of Hebron on Friday promised to continue their protests until government gave them what they wanted.

The barricaded roads made it difficult for motorists to travel in the township on Friday.

Residents were dissatisfied with a lack of feedback from the Madibeng local municipality following their march to the council offices about two weeks ago to demand the removal of their local councillor and to have roads in the area fixed.

Comment from Madibeng spokesperson Lebogang Tsogang could not be obtained after she had promised to reply to questions about the protests.

North West police said they had enhanced police presence and were keeping an eye on the protesters in the province.

"The community is warned that activities such as the barricading of roads, the looting and stoning of passing vehicles, are illegal and will not be tolerated," said spokesperson Sabata Mokgwabone.

"The police will take steps against any person who commits or is found to have committed a crime." – Sapa

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