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15 Feb 2006 12:10
Thousands of Khutsong residents marched to the local police station on Wednesday to protest the transfer of Merafong municipality from Gauteng into the North West.
The protesters carried South African Communist Party and Pan Africanist Congress banners.
They also bore placards reading: “Lekota do you want to die of heart attack? Back off!!”, “Fuck off North West, luv u GP”, “Mbeki your father was a politician, not you, we will give you educators to give you better economics” and “ANC stop telling lies about Khutsong, we are not going to vote”.
They sang “Siyaya eGauteng, even when they shoot, assault and arrest us” as they marched.
An elderly woman shouted “peace” to a police officer lined up with colleagues holding riot shields outside the police station.
“We are peaceful,” he responded.
The group, which earlier threatened to boycott the March 1 local government election, was expected to present a memorandum expressing unhappiness at the municipality’s proposed incorporation into the North West.
“We are not going to the North West. If this is democracy, then we are willing to die for it,” said Moago Mokgisi, who was among the community members gathering earlier in the day for the protest march.
Protesters charged that the people’s needs have not been taken into consideration and that the government should have asked them to which province they want to belong.
“[President] Thabo Mbeki came to Khutsong to campaign for the elections, but he doesn’t come when we need him. The councillors are the only people who are happy with the government’s decision because they are going to gain out of it,” said Mokgisi.
Protesters also accused Minister of Defence Mosiuoa Lekota, North West Premier Edna Molewa and Merafong mayor Des van Rooyen of lying to the media.
“They targeted a few places and spoke to a few people; after that they lied to the people that the situation in Khutsong has stabilised, which is not true,” said Kenny Modise, another protester.—Sapa
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