Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members had set fire to municipal buildings during a protest in Mohlakeng outside Randfontein in Gauteng, co-operative governance and human settlements MEC Jacob Mamabolo said on Wednesday.
“The EFF members went on a rampage and burnt down municipal properties after blockading all roads and entrances into the area, preventing the community to go to work,” Mamabolo said.
Mayor Sylvia Thebenare’s house and car, the library, municipal offices and hall were among the burnt properties.
Mamabolo said protesters had looted shops owned by foreign nationals and condemned the violence.
“This is a cowardly act and a total disregard for our democracy. In fact, the EFF is saying ‘away with democracy’ and advocating for a chaotic society characterised by violence, civil strife and general disorder.”
Residents embarked on a service delivery protest on Wednesday, barricading roads and burning tyres.
Mamabolo said the EFF was granted permission to march, but did not deliver a memorandum to anyone.
EFF West Rand regional chairperson Christina Mabala said local ANC members started the fires.
“Some people within the ANC decided to use the opportunity to burn properties and loot. We as the EFF distance ourselves from the violent acts and damage to property,” she said.
Mabala said the EFF organised a march from Mohlakeng township to Randfontein to hand a memorandum of grievances to Thebenare.
Police fired rubber bullets at the marchers after they stopped next to the traffic department to regroup, she said.
“We also received calls that people were burning buildings in the township after police fired rubber bullets at those who decided to turn back.
“Mamabolo was not there … he should stop making false accusations against the EFF.”
The marchers handed a memorandum to municipal officials, Mabala said.
Police fired rubber bullets at protesters in Majakaneng village near Mooinooi in North West on Wednesday.
“They were continuing to block and take charge of the roads. Minimum force had to be meted [out] to bring the situation under control,” said spokesperson Brigadier Thulani Ngubane.
He said protesters had barricaded parts of the N4 with gates, stones, trees and burning tyres.
Seven people were arrested and would face charges including public violence and malicious damage to property.
Ngubane said the protests started on Monday when a bus was set alight and two shops owned by foreign nationals looted. Residents complained about water and electricity supply in the area.
Earlier, Methodist Bishop Paul Verryn said he and a colleague had stones thrown at them as they tried to speak to Majakaneng residents.
He said he and his fellow priest, who was from the area, walked away unharmed.
Several main roads were closed after protesters threw stones at vehicles travelling between Rustenburg and Pretoria. This led to traffic officials closing the road between Mooinooi and Brits.
The North West community safety department said three trucks and a light motor vehicle were set alight on Tuesday night. All four drivers escaped unharmed and no arrests had been made. – Sapa