“Third force with criminal elements” is behind protest


Allegations has been made that a third force with criminal elements is behind Monday’s violence at SkyHill.
A supposedly peaceful march transformed into anarchical chaos on Monday as disgruntled youth threw stones at the police and security guards, set fire to the grass along the road between Secunda and Evander and broke off traffic signs.
The mob of about 300 people arrived per bus at the assemble point next to the Secunda graveyard in the morning and then marched to SkyHill and its training centre, Mshiniwami, only to find no one at home. The marchers were visibly upset that no-one from the Hydra-Arc Group was there to receive their memorandum. Instead, they were met by a line of security guards armed with paintball guns, four German Shepherds and their handlers and members of the police’s public order unit. The man who appeared to be the spokesman of the protestors told the police that “this is unfair”. The protesters barricaded both lanes of the double road with people, stones and any other form of debris they could find. Signs with slogans such as Corruption must fall were wielded around. One man seemed a bit out of sorts as he was waving a makeshift cardboard poster with the words “tar surfacing”. He later added this poster to the pile of torn up signs the marchers had ripped off the fence at the SkyHill facility.
After about an hour in the morning heat, emotions were boiling over. Some protestors began hurling insults at the guards. Others clobbered cars of motorists who wanted to drive pass. The thick smell of dagga hung in the air. Suddenly the mob began to scatter in several directions, all the while flinging stones at the guards and police. The police used rubber bullets and tear gas as they chased down the rioters who, at that point, were setting fire to fields and vandalising traffic signs.
The group apparently represented the Itemba Labasha Youth Forum.
Dimitri van der Westhuizen, CEO of the Hydra Arc Group said the march was orchestrated and planned by a third force with a strong criminal element. “This youth group is funded, but has no affiliation to any political party, has no support from the community and one of its leaders appears to be an ex-convict who is allegedly out on parole. None of them are students at Mshiniwami.”
Dimitri said Hydra Arc had long ago planned to close all its facilities on Monday to give their employees a long weekend off. “The date of this so-called peaceful march has been rescheduled several times. We were part and parcel of their stakeholder meetings. At the first meeting, the group retracted their intention to march. At a second meeting, they could not get their logistics in place as to where they would assemble, and so on. We were ejected from their third meeting. Had they allowed us to stay, they would have known that we were closed on Monday.”
Dimitri also refuted the demand of employment percentages 60% local intake. “Actually, we already have an intake of more than 85% in locals.” He said the company has evidence of a third force’s involvement and will not rest until those responsible are brought to book.” – Arisja Misselhorn.