The ANC in the Northern Cape have advised the Sol Plaatje Municipality in Kimberley to suspend Municipal Manager, Goolam Akhawaray as well as the Chief Financial Officer, Lydia Mahloko following violent service delivery protests.
This decision comes after the party’s provincial leadership met with the community representatives and regional leadership in the Frances Baard Region. More than 100 people appeared at the Galeshewe Magistrates Court on various charges including public violence.
Emotions ran high as hundreds of residents marched to the Galeshewe Magistrate’s Court to demand the immediate release of 190 people arrested since Thursday.
A scuffle ensued between the police and the residents in front of the court house, as residents started blockading roads with burning tyres.
The community members’ anger was fuelled when the Sol Plaatje Municipality tried to introduce a R260 electricity tariff. Residents blamed the municipal manager Goolam Akhawaray, and Chief Financial Officer, Lydia Mahloko for the proposed hike. Residents have now called for Mayor Mangaliso Matika to step down.
“We’re here to give support to our community members who have been arrested on Thursday while we were at a legal strike,” says one protester. Another one adds, “It’s not nice, it’s painful that they’re arrested because of what happened. Because they fought for what they believe it’s right.”
The ANC in the province has given in to some of the residents demands. The party’s provincial Secretary, Deshi Ngxanga, says they have advised the municipality to suspend the two officials, instead of the officials going on voluntary leave.
“We’ve agreed on the following to advice the municipality to suspend the Manager and the CFO. You would actually recall that last week, we said they must go on voluntary leave. This time now, we have met and discuss the issue and we took a decision that they must be suspended. They complained that the municipality put an interdict against them. We said that if the interdict remains in tact, it means that they won’t be able to interact and interface with our community.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Education has voiced its concern about the impact the current service protests might have on schooling in the area. The department’s spokesperson Geoffrey van der Merwe says:
“The Northern Cape department of education is concerned over the recent spate of the ongoing protests, as schools are preparing to open tomorrow. At this stage we are at risk of loosing valuable learning and teaching time if an amicable solution is not reached. we are continuing to engage the saps to provide us with regular updates as they are monitoring the situation. We are appealing to the public to ensure that schooling commence as normal. We are entering a crucial term, especially for our matriculants as they are preparing for their final examinations”.
About 202 protesters were arrested last week, and more were arrested today. The protestors who were arrested last week briefly appeared in court on Monday, and were remanded in custody. They are expected to appear in court again next week.