Social media was again in a frenzy on Thursday after some tweeted a picture of a McDonald’s on fire, alleging it was happening in North West.
They claimed that amid rising scenes of violence, anti-Supra Mahumapelo protesters had turned to allegedly targeting businesses they suspected were owned by the premier, or were linked to him.
This was linked to the rumour that the premier was once given two or three McDonald’s businesses by Cyril Ramaphosa. However, the photograph in question is fake, and actually from a fire in the US three years ago.
So turns out the picture that has been circulating on social media of #Mahikeng McDonald's burning is actually fake. It was taken from a video footage of a 2015 fire in the U.S. pic.twitter.com/kZiRhyR2Uz
— Seipati Phora (@seipati_P) April 19, 2018
Nevertheless, many were quick to assume that the protests against Mahumapelo had escalated to this level.
After a failed attempted to burn his house in Unit 14, some of the protesters, have vowed to torch businesses they are suspecting of belonging to NW Premier #SupraMahumapelo
'He owns everything, McDonald's, Curro, every tender. Even all small busineses, resign Supra'
— MANLU (@LucasMothibedi) April 18, 2018
The ANC in North West on Thursday said it was concerned about sporadic protests in the North West capital Mahikeng, which had escalated into lawlessness and violence.
“While there are often genuine service delivery protests, we as the ANC regard these latest acts of violence in Mahikeng as political opportunism disguised as community outrage,” said acting provincial secretary Susanna Dantjie.
“This is evident in the main call of those who have been quoted in the media attacking ANC provincial chairperson Cde Supra Mahumapelo, who is also premier of our province, using untested allegations of corruption.
“They are continuing on the same trajectory of the Supra Must Fall campaign started by those who once called themselves the North West Business Forum. They have now changed their name to the Revolutionary Council. This is the same call that is now being used by some opposition parties in the province,” she said.
She added the ANC was happy with the ongoing engagements between the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and the task team of MECs Mahumapelo had established to find a solution to the health workers’ strike.
News24 reported on Thursday afternoon that Mahumapelo on Thursday morning suspended the health department’s HOD, Dr Andrew Thabo Lekalakala, over a contract given to Gupta-linked healthcare company Mediosa.
Members of Nehawu have been on strike since February 26, demanding the dismissal of the head of Lekalakala, the termination of contracted companies by the department, bonus payments, payment of occupation specific dispensation (OSD) for employees at provincial offices and the increase of community health workers’ salaries.
Nehawu said: “We condemn the violence, torching and damage to property by protesters, and want to make it clear that this is wrong and unacceptable. These acts of violence have led to learners not being able to go to schools, patients being unable to access health facilities, while public servants in clinics around Mahikeng and Mahikeng provincial hospital are being harassed by some of the protesters.”
Mahikeng was totally shut down on Thursday as the calls for Mahumapelo to step down continued to mount.
Protesters have called on Mahumapelo to vacate the premiership.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in North West said the ANC was protecting Mahumapelo rather intervening in and alleviating the plight of communities in North West.
“The province is in shambles, yet the ANC deputy secretary-general, Jessie Duarte, has come out to say that the ‘ANC members in the North West legislature won’t support a motion of no confidence in premier Supra Mahumapelo’, despite obvious problems within the party’s leadership,” DA provincial leader Joe McGluwa said.
“Since then violent protests flared up in and around Mahikeng, vehicles were torched, roads are closed, and the capital city was brought to a standstill today. People are openly asking for the premier to be removed.”