by ANNA NTABANE in Barberton, Mpumalanga
BARBERTON (Mpumalanga Guardian) – FOUR weeks into the protests by members of the Umjindi municipality against the area’s incorporation into the City of Mbombela, the area resembles a war zone.
There seems no end in sight to these skirmishes on the Barberton.
Enraged protesters vandalised yet another municipal building this past weekend as the situation spirals out of control.
A community hall was burned, typical of protests sporadically flaring in South Africa.
The hall has been declared a crime scene.
Lt Gen Mondli Zuma, the provincial commissioner of police, and Gabisile Shabalala, the Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) for Safety, Security and Liason have visited the hall.
“These are criminal acts, it has nothing to do with the concerns they have been raising,” Zuma said.
“How do you burn the municipal community hall and the facility for the elderly care if you have certain demands against the area falling under certain municipality?” he queried.
Residents allege service delivery has deteriorated since Umjindi was incorporated into the City of Mbombela.
Shabalala issued a stern warning against perpetrators of vandalism.
“We plead with community members to distance themselves from lawbreakers, because, if you are found with them, you will also be arrested,” Shabalala said.
“This unrest is affecting schools, the issue of service delivery will be dealt with by relevant department as we are a government of the people, help us find these people who are breaking the law,” she continued.
Investigations were ongoing into the fire incident.
Some 45 suspects have been arrested since the onset of the protest.–