Police have dispersed stone-throwing protesters on the N3 amid ongoing protests in Harrismith, Free State. Roads remain closed with stones and burning tyres, while schools are also closed.

Residents, who are calling for President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene, have vowed to continue with their protest. They also want Harrismith to be removed from the Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality.

The residents say the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has not kept its promises to them.

Residents of Intabazwe in Harrismith demand to be separated from the Maluti-A-Phofung municipality:

Residents say Harrismith is side-lined in terms of services and development.

50-year-old unemployed mother, Puleng Sithole, has lived in the area called Linda Mkhonto for over five years without services. She says they lived in the area before it was formalised, but nothing changed even after they were officially allocated sites.

Sithole says water is a daily struggle and tankers only deliver water once a month.

“We don’t get enough water we are struggling because the trucks come only once in a month and for three weeks, we would be without water. We are also unable to get to take wheelbarrows and go collect water far away and we also don’t even have money to send children to collect water for us.”

Improved service delivery

Residents, who want Harrismith to be removed from the Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality, are calling for improved service delivery.

“Electricity, water and roads at least pavement we would appreciate that,” one resident says.

“Unemployment is a serious issue here in Harrismith because we are unemployed, especially when it comes to youth. It is a very serious problem if you are unemployed because we are unable to supply for our families; we cannot do anything. That’s why we end up gambling and stuff which is not right,” says another resident.

Free State COGTA has confirmed that it has written to the Office of the President to intervene.

Meanwhile, there’s a heavy police presence on the busy N3 and N5 in Harrismith to monitor the situation.