After weeks of protests in Barberton, the situation reached boiling point at the town hall last week. Protesters marched to the Barberton Town Hall to attend a meeting with Cogta MEC, Mandla Msibi when a group, believed to be against the prolonged strike, ordered residents out of the hall. In a matter of minutes, the situation became volatile and soon afterwards, fists flew and bricks were hurled at the group.
Sekere groepe (volksgroepe) word weer volgens die “ANC se Afbakeningsraad, verdeel en by ander volksgroepe ingesluit of selfs by ander munisipaliteite en dan is daar ‘n tekort aan dienste of geen dienslewerings vind plaas nie. Hang af wie die meerderheid is wat die munisipaliteite beheer. Die protesgangers dui aan hulle soek hul eie “munisipaliteit” weer terug. Dit gebeur oral so, die “meerderheid” word eerste gehelp …
On 25 February 2020, it was stated in the media that Ward 45 councillor, Lifa Sithole, sustained injuries to his head after he was hit by a brick during the melee. The town came to a standstill as the Public Order Policing unit tried to restore calm and set off stun grenades in an attempt to restore order.
This comes after a group disrupted the previous day’s planned meeting with protesters, Msibi and mining houses from the area at Mbombela Municipality.
The meeting was cancelled and strike organiser, Mandla Mamba, subsequently called for a total shutdown of Barberton.
In a video doing the rounds on Facebook, Mamba urged everyone to join the strike, which ostensibly calls for the separation of the Umjindi Local Municipality from the City of Mbombela Local Municipality. His call included all schools within Barberton, including Laerskool Barberton and Hoërskool Barberton.
Schools were closed on Thursday and Friday as the protest action continued, with learners expected back at school yesterday.
Barberton protest marred by violent confrontations between opposing factions
12 February 2020
The civil unrest has entered its second week after demonstrators declared that they would continue until the Umjindi Municipality splits from the Mbombela Local Municipality. Scores of protesters took to the streets this afternoon, blockading roads and engaging in pitched battles with the police.
The assistance of residents from neighbouring areas, such as Verulam and Emjindini Trust, is telling as rocks, bottles and rubber bullets continue to fly in Barberton.
MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs in Mpumalanga, Mandla Msibi, will address residents of Barberton in connection with their concerns tomorrow.
8 February 2020 –
One protester said, “This is our strategy to unite Barberton as we call for a break from the City of Mbombela.”
Police have deployed the “amabherete” tactical response team in response to the protests. Protesting residents are playing a game of cat-and-mouse with the team, operating under cover of darkness and barricading streets at night.
20 February 2020
Police had their hands full in Barberton, Mpumalanga today. Residents clashed ahead of a meeting with the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. The town is on lockdown this evening. Residents want COGTA and the presidency to reverse a merger between Mbombela and the Umjindi municipality. They claim the City of Mbombela is neglecting them.
11 February 2020
Barberton protesters demand the release of their comrades
10 February 2020
The protests against the merging of Umjindi and Mbombela municipalities have intensified. The two-week-old protest in Barberton is now interrupting local schools, as residents are still demanding Umjindi be separated from Mbombela. They claim service delivery has deteriorated since the merger in 2016.
A group of people from the now-defunct Umjindi Municipality in Barberton have disrupted the Municipal Demarcation board’s consultative meeting in Mbombela, Mpumalanga. The group is calling on government to reverse the amalgamation of the Mbombela and Umjindi Municipalities. They claim service delivery has deteriorated since the merger in 2016. The board is consulting residents on ward allocations and alignments before the 2021 local government elections.