Acts of violence during community protests condemned

LEEUWFONTEIN – Following a fierce protest over lack of running water in Leeuwfotein outside Marble Hall which rendered the area ungovernable on Monday, 16 November 2020, Limpopo provincial police have condemned the acts of violence including barricading of roads prevalent in some parts of the province.

The residents of Leeuwfontein barricaded roads with burning tyres, rubble and stones that day during a protest action. They attempted to get the relevant authorities to attend to their problems of lack of water that have been persistent in the area for years.

According to the residents, several of their attempts to get authorities, especially Sekhukhune District Municipality (SDM), which is a water authority in the area, to address their lack of running water problems, bore no fruits. The residents recently marched to the office of the Limpopo Premier, Chupu Mathabatha, in Polokwane, in an attempt to get the premier’s intervention on the matter which has been thorny in the area for years.

On Monday, police were forced to use rubber bullets to disperse the angry residents who had blockaded the main Groblersdal/Marble Hall road along the area. A pregnant woman was shot and admitted to hospital during the chaos.

Following the arrest of six suspects aged between 31 and 45 years-old, for public violence, which erupted in the area since Monday, 16 November 2020 into the early hours of Tuesday, 17 November 2020 morning, Limpopo South African Police Service (SAPS) Provincial Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Nneke Ledwaba, said he was enraged by the continuous acts of violence including barricading of roads which were still prevalent in some parts of the province.

Police said a group of residents went on rampage in Leeuwfontein and barricaded the Groblersdal/Marble Hall road along the area with burning tyres, stones and tree branches and trunks.

Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe, Limpopo Provincial Police Spokesperson, said SAPS in Motetema outside Groblersdal were notified about the situation and responded accordingly with the support from the Public Order Police Unit and subsequently, those suspects were arrested.

Ngoepe said it was reported that police received complaints about a multitude of people who were protesting along that road between Leeuwfontein and Marble Hall.

“Upon arrival, police found more than 300 people chanting slogans and distracting motorists to use alternative roads leading to Marble Hall. This irresponsible act by this group of community members affected the free flow of traffic severely including schooling in the area, which is totally unacceptable,” said Ngoepe.

The Provincial Commissioner has urged the public to process their complaints to the relevant authorities peacefully than resorting to violence and destruction of properties.

“Those who are still continuing to perpetrate these types of acts are going to be dealt with mercilessly and without compromise,” said Ledwaba.

Police said more arrests were still expected and the arrested suspects would appear before Motetema Magistrates Court soon.

The situation is still being monitored by the Public Order Police Unit and the police investigations are continuing.

Thapelo Motseo

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