SOUTH AFRICA: Demonstrations increase in Mahikeng as Ramaphosa visits – PICTURES
Police can be seen trying to keep a group of protesters back as they attempted to continue looting a local hardware store in the township of Seweding near Mahikeng, Friday 20 April, 2018. Picture: Daily Maverick
Addressing the media before the meeting started on Friday afternoon, ANC NEC member Obed Bapela said the party had heard protesters’ complaints. He pleaded with them to be peaceful. Bapela admitted corruption was rife in the North West government but said it is broader than one individual. Bapela, who the ANC NEC has deployed to the province, said the party will investigate allegations of corruption and act against those found to be implicated.
The protests calmed somewhat ahead of the meeting but over two days Mahikeng has seen police clash with protesters as stores have been looted and vehicles torched, bringing the city to a standstill. The Mmabana Arts centre was set on fire on Thursday. Police on Thursday said a total of 16 people had been arrested.
Residents called on the President to take strong action against Mahumapelo.
“I wish the President would tell us that Supra is leaving. If he is not leaving there will be hell to pay. This man has taken a lot from us and it seems like he still wants to take more but enough is enough,” said Kealeboga Moloi, a Mahikeng resident from Lomanyaneng Village.
The situation in Mahikeng has been tense and it has even been difficult for anyone to enter Danville with young men demanding to be paid to allow people to enter. Although the South African Police Services has managed to stop some places like Mega City from being looted, some residents accused SAPS of dragging their feet while others said Public Order Police were being heavy handed with protesters.
“I hope the President coming to Mahikeng is not a waste of time. He cannot miss the Commonwealth’s meeting to come and not give us what we want. It is simple, we want Supra to leave and we want better service delivery,” said Mokgabo Mosiapoa from Unit 6.
Mahumapelo has been linked to corruption allegations involving the Gupta family. Residents were outraged after it was reported that his son received a bursary worth over R1-million from state-owned arms company Denel without following the correct procedures.
The DA (Democratic Alliance) said on Friday that a relative of the premier had allegedly received a R32-million contract to run a call centre that only handled an average of 32 calls a month.
“The only action Ramaphosa should take today is to recall the premier. Anything less would amount to ignoring the people of the North West who have suffered under this ANC administration,” said DA North West leader Joe McGluwa.
Police Minister Bheki Cele visited Mahikeng on Friday and listened to complaints of police brutality. He promised to return in two weeks. “As the police, we cannot allow our members to ill-treat the communities they serve. Working with the SAPS leadership we will sit and resolve issues to make our working relationship better. I take it upon myself to find a solution,” he said.
It was reported that one protester died on Thursday evening in a car chase with police. SAPS has denied the death related to the protests.
Although there were still some areas on Friday in Mahikeng, like Magogoe, where police and protesters staged running battles, most residents waited to hear whether Ramaphosa would take a stand against the embattled Mahumapelo.