Nearly 30 suspects arrested for Middelburg unrests
The Mpumalanga MEC for Community Safety, Security and Liaison (DCSSL), Vusi Shongwe praised the police for the efforts they made in dealing with violent service delivery protests that erupted in several parts of Steve Tshwete Local Municipality recently.
So far the police have arrested about 28 suspects linked to violence that characterised these demonstrations since Wednesday. The arrested suspects were charged with public violence and contravention of the Disaster Management Act. They are expected to appear in court soon and more arrests are imminent.
Thursday the N4 toll and N11 roads in Middelburg were closed temporarily by the protesters. Several vehicles including a truck, a bus and a minibus were torched. Several roads coming in and of the surrounding townships were barricaded with burning objects and stones. Some shops owned by foreign nationals were also looted.
The residents are reportedly complaining about the recent increases in rates and taxes by the Municipality.
The MEC along with the SAPS Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Manamela, visited the area Friday.
They were briefed on the progress the police made in curbing violence. Shongwe applauded the security agencies for urgently bringing the situation under control.
The MEC decried the violent protests and the destruction of private property.
He added that he is satisfied that there was an urgent council sitting that took place today to resolve the impasse between the Municipality and the residents.
“This is one of the best-run municipalities because, for many years, it has produced Clean Audit Reports. Therefore we must do everything to protect it,” says the MEC.
“It is unfortunate what happened here. People have a right to protest but it must be done within the ambit of the law. We should not allow criminality to find its way during the protests,” says Shongwe.