75 schools closed in Kimberley as violent protests pick up

On Sunday, a WhatsApp message and voice note began to circulate calling on Kimberley residents to shut the city down. (Richie J Loria/M&G)

On Sunday, a WhatsApp message and voice note began to circulate calling on Kimberley residents to shut the city down. (Richie J Loria/M&G)

Seventy five schools in the Sol Plaatje municipality sent learners home after violent protests began again on Monday morning.

On Sunday, a WhatsApp message and voice note began to circulate calling on Kimberley residents to shut the city down. Who originally wrote the message is unclear.

This follows almost two weeks of protests over high electricity tariffs and calls for Sol Plaatje municipality officials to step down.

Sol Plaatje municipality spokesperson Sello Matsie also confirmed that as well as road and school closures, a library in Galeshewe had been partially burnt down. The suspects are in custody, and a case of arson has been opened, he said.

“Currently, we do have some roads, in and around Galeshewe, that are closed. And there was an attempt to burn down the library. But our fire department did go and doused off the fire. The situation remains tense and we have been notified that the schools have dismissed learners due to their safety concerns,” Matsie told EWN.

According to EWN, law enforcement officers are working towards removing barricades on several roads that were constructed by protesters.

The city shut down during the weekend of July 14 over the price of prepaid electricity. Residents called on then Sol Plaatje Municipality mayor Mangaliso Matika to step down.

READ MORE: Kimberley rocked by ‘R260 riot’

Then last Wednesday, several ANC councillors voted alongside the Democratic Alliance in a motion of no confidence in Matika. The motion succeeded and Matika was replaced by ANC councillor Pule Thabane.

However, ANC provincial secretary‚ Deshi Ngxanga‚ has warned that the ANC councillors who voted with the DA would be “summarily”  suspended, Timeslive reported.

Eleven ANC councillors voted in favour of the DA motion. Of those, eight are ward councillors. Should the councillors be suspended — as threatened by the ANC — by-elections will need to be held in the relevant wards.

Matsie says that the council meeting at which Thabane was voted in as mayor was “lawful”. However, the ANC plans to take the matter to the high court in Kimberly, reports said.

The ANC has majority rule in the Sol Plaatje municipality with 38 seats out of a total of 65.

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie works in the Mail & Guardian's online department. She majored in English Literature at a small liberal arts college in the USA.  Read more from Gemma Ritchie

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