October 2018 – (500+) Protesters in Stutterheim torched and destroyed more than four government buildings, including the historical town hall, one clinic, in their violent display of how unhappy they were with the service delivery they receive during their so-called non-violent actions in a so-called “democratic” country. The Daily Dispatch reported last year that scores of more than 500 angry protesters started the chaos that ensued in Stutterheim, stoning cars and dumping burning tyres inside government buildings. Those “gangsters” voted the people into as Councillors – those that started the arson, what happened to them? Why destroy their own services or who paid them to destroy it?
Photos were taken of this arson, but it is not only in Stutterheim, it is also in other parts of the country. What happened to those criminals and which buildings are their next targets in South Africa? Their mission is to destroy all municipal services.
2018 – Moses Dlamini, the police spokesperson, had falsely claimed that one protester was fatally shot by riot police. The protester was indeed shot by the police. However, he has survived and is currently in a critical condition, being treated at the hospital in Stutterheim.
The protesters claimed they were not violent but the police did not start the arson, those protesters did the fireworks.
Previously in the media
Eyewitnesses said a mob of 500 rampaged through the town stoning cars and dragging burning tyres into government buildings in the CBD.
There was also drama in Breidbach as hundreds of protesters closed the N2 for most of the day. Police spokesperson Siphokazi Mawisa said nine people were arrested in Breidbach for public violence and malicious damage to property. “Police used rubber bullets to disperse the crowd,” she added.
Traffic was pelted with stones in Stutterheim and on the N2. Witnesses said police seemed to be outnumbered in Stutterheim. Video clips showed Amahlati municipal offices ablaze and gutted. The buildings were fire-blackened, smoking ruins on Tuesday night.
A motorist driving through the town towards East London in the evening said: “The situation is bad. The town is at a standstill and protestors are throwing stones at cars. Police seemed to have no capacity to deal with the protesters.”
Donald Bradbury, who drove through Stutterheim at 2.55pm, saw people running in the streets. Tyres and plastic bins were on fire and the main road was closed. “I had to take a route past the cemetery,” he said.
The Black Business Forum secretary in Amahlathi, Siyabulela Makunga, said the forum did not condone the destruction of state property, but the destruction was a wake-up call for the government to take action against those in charge of the municipality. “We raised our concern on the state of the municipality, and now young people raise their voice on the issue of service delivery and you think that our municipality is in the right hands? “In Amahlathi, and Stutterheim in particular, we have dilapidated roads. As a result, a black-owned company had to relocate, leaving young people here unemployed.
“Are municipal authorities acting in the interests of the electorate of Amahlathi or of certain individuals?”
Amahlathi mayor Phatheka Qaba said she and her speaker, Nokuzola Mlahleki, municipal manager Sikhulu Nqwena and mayoral committee member Neliswa Busika were forced to flee to safety at 10am when youths hurled a burning tyre at them, and pelted them with stones. She said a policeman threw the flaming tyre back.
Qaba said four buildings were then torched by the mob. Qaba, who is from Cathcart, said the youths accused her of giving tenders to people in her home town ahead of Stutterheim’s unemployed youth. “I left a meeting to address the protest in front of the municipal building but I only managed to say hello before the loud hailer was snatched from me,” she said.
The crowd was armed with sticks, knives and tyres. A youth leader had ordered her and others to address them in the township. “We refused. We felt threatened,” she added.
Qaba said the politicians then retreated inside a building, and as stones smashed through the windows, she ordered all staff to evacuate. In the chaos, she saw looters running out with laptops. She said the mob went to a meeting at the Amahlathi engineering offices in Upper Hill street and drew daggers on provincial and Salga officials, ordering them out.Qaba said the youths wanted a councillor fired, and claimed that the 50th birthday party of an executive mayoral committee councillor was seen as “spitting in the face of her poor neighbours” who slept hungry while politicians ate and drank. They want Qaba to step down.
Speaker Mlahleki said youths were angry at being overlooked for Sanral jobs and had given her a deadline, which they felt was ignored.
He agreed, saying the recruitment was unfair as only youths of a certain ward were hired.
Amathole district mayor Nomfusi Nxawe condemned the violence, saying protesters should not damage infrastructure that was there for their benefit. “The protesters are said to be unhappy about youth unemployment. The protest is violent, which we condemn.”
At Breidbach at least 30 police officers, many in full riot gear, occupied the entrance to the village all day. There were 12 police vehicles and two armoured hippos in sight.
About 500 people stood close to the N2 and angrily protested against Buffalo City Metro for not resolving their grievances.
Eastern Cape transport spokesperson Unathi Bhinqose said traffic had been diverted at the Berlin junction towards Zwelitsha since protesters started throwing stones at vehicles from the pedestrian bridge over the N2.
Gerald Plaatjies of the Plaaslike Besorge Inwoners, said several people had been injured and their houses damaged by rubber bullets.
Breidbach leader Antonio Reed said: “We are not violent. This was a peaceful protest until police came and started shooting at us.”
BCM spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya said they had spoken to the provincial government about the issues in Briedbach…
The violence that encapsulated Stutterheim was palpable. Siyabulela Makunga, the secretary of the Black Business Forum, warned that the impoverished youth in the area has had enough of the shady dealings that go on at the Amahlati municipality.
“We raised our concern on the state of the municipality, and now young people raise their voice on the issue of service delivery and you think that our municipality is in the right hands?
“In Amahlati and Stutterheim in particular, we have dilapidated roads. As a result, a black-owned company had to relocate, leaving young people here unemployed. Are municipal authorities acting in the interests of the electorate of Amahlati or of certain individuals?” Makunga asked.
Moses Dlamini, the police spokesperson, had falsely claimed that one protester was fatally shot by riot police. The protester was indeed shot by the police. However, he has survived and is currently in a critical condition, being treated at the hospital in Stutterheim.
Stutterheim protesters attack Amahlati municipality mayor
Phatheka Qaba, the mayor of Amahlati almost became a victim of the violence. She, as well as her speaker, Nokuzola Mlahleki, Sikhulu Nqwena and Neliswa Busika, the mayoral committee member, were forced to flee the municipality after protesters threw burning tyres at them.
According to Qaba, the protesters have accused her of awarding tenders to bidders in her hometown, Cathcart. They also believe that she has failed at delivering South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) jobs.
“I left the meeting to address the protest in front of the municipal building but I only managed to say hello before the loud hailer was snatched from me. We were in the process of ironing out all the issues.
“We attended meetings with SANRAL but didn’t want to return to the youths with an incomplete report. They got impatient and did this. We were really so close”, she said.
18 October 2018 – Armed with petrol bombs and stones, protesters barged into the offices of the Amahlathi Local municipality in Stutterheim on Tuesday. They were demanding answers about government jobs. They set alight the municipal offices. A local clinic close to the municipal offices was burnt down too. Protesters we spoke to said burning the clinic was not part of their plan, but destroying the municipal offices was the only thing that would get municipal officials to listen. Only 18 people have been arrested and one person has died after being shot by police.
Protesters claimed that when they went to the municipal offices, they waited outside the offices but no one addressed them. The protesters say they had promised to do so. Officials have denied this, and said the mayor tried to meet with them. The protesters then decided to destroy the municipal building.
An eyewitness, who asked for her name not to be used, because she lives in the area, said a group of young people from Mlungisi Township in ward 14 marched to the municipal main offices. She said the protesters were carrying a petition with their grievances, including that no new posts in the municipality are being advertised. The protesters claimed that interns who have been with the municipality for three years have not been given permanent jobs. They also accused officials of hiring family members or forcing youths to buy jobs. “Next thing we saw protesters going inside the municipal offices carrying petrol bombs and big stones,” the eyewitness said. “Unfortunately the clinic mistakenly burnt down but it was never the plan,” she said.
The next day the protesters set alight shops at Mlungisi Commercial Park Shopping Centre. Vehicles were stoned and roads closed with burning tyres. A police vehicle was damaged. Police used rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the angry crowd who were also looting shops. Amahlathi spokesperson Anathi Nyoka said protesters who claimed to be unemployed youth from ward 14 came to the municipality on 25 September with a petition containing a number of issues.
She said Speaker Nokuzola Mlahleki and Mayor Phatheka Qaba responded on the same day to some of the issues, resolving a number of them.
“The municipality was still in the process of trying to attend to some of the outstanding issues. Then on Tuesday they arrived at the municipality burning tyres and the mayor and speaker immediately went outside to address them, but the protesters refused [to listen] saying they wanted to be addressed in their ward,” said Nyoka.
She said they continued burning tyres and suddenly they started throwing bricks at the buildings and eventually torched them.
“On Wednesday a portion of the Mlungisi Community Commercial Park was torched,” she said.
The municipality is unable yet to estimate the cost of the damage.
Eastern Cape Department of Health spokesperson Lwandile Sicwetsha said the department is waiting for a police investigation into the burnt clinic. “Staff escaped unharmed,” he said.
Stutterheim police spokesperson Siphokazi Mawisa said the people who were arrested on Wednesday are appearing in Stutterheim Magistrate Court on Thursday. They are facing charges of public violence and malicious damage to property.
Mawisa said over 100 people participated in Tuesday’s protest.
“One male was shot and taken to hospital. The case has been transferred to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate for investigation,” she said.
Sicwetsha said the man died in hospital.
On Thursday morning, Mawisa said that the situation was calm and police were monitoring it.
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