Taxi drivers slowly edged their minibuses around boulders placed in the roads of Khutsong, in the Carletonville area, after a day of protests on Wednesday over a proposal that the Merafong municipality be incorporated into the North West province.
It is in Gauteng at present.
The announcement of the delimitation proposal, a topic Khutsong residents said kept coming with mixed messages, prompted a Tuesday-night meeting for which permission was requested at short notice — and granted.
By 7am on Wednesday, emotions were rising as the township observed a stayaway. Schools closed and groups began to burn tyres and block off the streets with rocks.
Fire-bombing, stone-throwing and police reacting with rubber bullets followed. By sunset, 28 youths had been arrested, appeared in court and returned to the custody of their parents, according to Senior Superintendent Kobus Peche, area head of crime prevention for police on the West Rand.
As the light faded, people who had been protesting warned that a second stayaway day, on Thursday, would see more action.
”The majority of residents want to stay in Gauteng,” said Teko Thebe.
Local South African Communist Party spokesperson Jomo Mogale said the community wants Minister of Provincial and Local Government Sydney Mufamadi and provincial minister of local government Qedani Mahlangu to attend to its problem.
”There is a lot of unemployment in North West and education is not up to scratch,” said Mogale. ”Besides, we in this area have contributed a lot to the mining sector of Gauteng.”
In what police said was a final burst of violence between a community group and police officers, Young Communist League spokesperson Kgaile Senyane was hit in the back and arm by rubber bullets.
While police said they acted only with restraint while under attack, Senyane said he had been trying to negotiate. He accused police of being too hungry for action.
Meanwhile, caught in crossfire was Bongani Mankgare, who believed his primary-school daughter had been taken out of a taxi as it entered the volatile township as she came home from Westfield Primary School in Carletonville.
”When I got home from work, my wife was crying. I’ve been at the police station. Nobody seems to have seen her,” he said. — Sapa