Service delivery protests erupt in eMalahleni and Mbombela

Political parties have called for calm after residents vented their frustration for allegedly being without electricity.

Service delivery protests shook the Mpumalanga province this week with residents in eMalahleni and Mbombela taking to the streets to demonstrate their frustration for being without electricity. Shops were set alight and looted, two people were killed while matric learners could not write their exams and children could not get to school.

On Monday, angry eMalahleni residents blocked the N4, damaging vehicles and later burning two major retailers, a Pick n Pay and Pep store as well as three shops owned by foreign nationals. Residents say they have been without water and electricity for two weeks.

As a result of the protest, matric learners in affected areas had to miss their exams scheduled for Monday.

The national Department of Education say these learners will be afforded time to write the paper they missed due to the protest.

“We are currently in a meeting deliberating on this issue, but I can assure you and the affected learners that they will be given another date to write the paper. Fortunately, we have a back-up paper different from the one they were all scheduled to write on Monday. But yes, they will get another chance,” says the department’s spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga.

The Mpumalanga SAPS confirmed that one person was certified dead after being shot during the protest.

“We are not yet certain who shot the 50-year-old woman. However, an immediate investigation is under way, which will look into allegations that the victim as well as two others who had reportedly sustained injuries, were shot by a member or members of the police,” says the provincial police spokesperson, Colonel Donald Mdhluli.

The Witbank News reports a second person’s charred remains were discovered in one of the burnt down shops.

A motorist caught in the middle of the strike, opted to abandon his car to get to safety. Sfiso Gweba told the Witbank News that he fled for his life. Protesters overturned his car and later set it ablaze.

Mdhluli says a case of public violence has been opened, and so far two people have been arrested.

On Tuesday morning, Mataffin community members within the City of Mbombela also took to the streets, protesting for electricity. They alleged that they had been without electricity for the past four days.

Again, learners could not get to school.

The DA and the EFF have since both appealed for calm in the province.

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