Thousands of “gatvol” community members in Kimberley are taking to the streets again today, vowing not to back down until the mayor suspends the city’s chief financial officer and manager on allegations of corruption.
Protesters brought the Northern Cape capital to a standstill yesterday, calling for the two officials’ heads.
According to the organisers of the protest, eight people, including an eight-year-old and three elderly people, were rushed to hospital after police allegedly fired live ammunition, rubber bullets and stun grenades at the crowd marching to the municipal offices.
These communities protested last month when Sol Plaatje Municipality mayor Mangaliso Matika introduced a R260 flat fee for “electricity availability” for all homes connected to the grid on top of the normal prepaid or monthly bills.
The fee has since been scrapped, but the residents are demanding that heads roll in the cash-strapped municipality, claiming corruption is behind the harrowing conditions in which many residents live.
Tumelo Mosikane, one of the organisers of the protest, said the residents wanted chief financial officer Zuziwe Mahloko and municipal manager Goolam Akharwaray investigated for corruption because the R260 fee was “irregular”.
“The communities will not stop until the mayor listens to our demands. We are living like rats. There are no services because the municipality takes our money and organises shows, hires PR companies and tries to defraud the people.”
Mosikane added the city hired a public relations company to send out flyers which said yesterday’s march was cancelled.
Police were monitoring the situation yesterday afternoon after violent exchanges. Several shops were looted and at least one building was set alight.
Colonel Dimakatso Mooi said a few people had been arrested and some were injured, but that it was difficult to gauge numbers because so many people were involved in the protest.
Roads to the city centre were blocked and there were reports that a transformer had been set alight, causing blackouts in most of the city. Mosikane said there were blackouts in some parts of the city.
Municipal spokesperson Sello Matsie could not be reached for comment.