Thapelo Lekabe

By Thapelo Lekabe

Senior Digital Journalist

Cops arrest service delivery protestors in Mangaung after emptying rubbish bins on street

Protesters on Wednesday morning used stones and bricks to block the road leading to the Mangaung metro’s offices.

Eleven members of the Mangaung Concerned Community organisation were arrested on Wednesday for public violence, during a protest outside the embattled Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality’s offices.

Mangaung protests

Public order police unit members arrested the protestors – nine males and two females – after they allegedly blocked De Villiers Street in Bloemfontein, which leads to the Bram Fischer Building that houses the metro’s management and administration staff.

The angry protestors, who were protesting over water and sewerage issues and poor service delivery, collected rubbish from bins in the vicinity and littered around the road leading to the municipality.

Police said the group also used stones and bricks to block the street.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thabo Covane said police had to use stun grenades to disperse the group of protesters and the motor vehicles they used to block the street, were subsequently impounded.

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Covane said a case docket of public violence, contravention of Gatherings Act and Road Traffic Act was opened at Parkweg Police Station.

“Bloemfontein public order police unit members arrived at the scene and the operational commander warned the group at about 08:00 to open the street within a given time, upon which they refused.

“The instruction was given to disperse the crowd and [we] effected arrests at about 09:00,” he said in a statement.

A representative of the Mangaung metro also reported incidents of malicious damage to property inside Bram Fischer building.

The arrested protesters were expected to appear at Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

Mangaung’s service delivery woes

The Mangaung metro has been plagued by service delivery challenges over the years.

Since last week, various parts of the city have been experiencing water supply interruptions. Bloem Water said this was due to a damaged water pipe at Welbedacht Dam.

The municipality said the water utility was still busy with emergency repairs and water tankers were availed to the affected areas.

Parliament warning

Meanwhile, the Mangaung metro is expected to compile a comprehensive report at its next council sitting, on Thursday, on how to improve the city after Parliament threatened to dissolve the metro.

Last week, parliament’s Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Water and Sanitation raised concerns after representatives of the municipality arrived for a meeting unprepared and without a report on progress made on the Section 139(5)(a) and (c) invoked by the Free State provincial government.

The committee’s chairperson China Dodovu accused the city of showing “complete disregard” to parliamentarians.

Dodovu said it was also concerning that the contribution of the South African Local Government Association (Salga) had highlighted the continued deterioration of the state of the city, with concerns that the political leadership within the municipality was fraught with divisions that were paralising the city even further.

“The unfortunate consequence of the utter disrespect is the lack of service delivery to the people of Mangaung who expect quality service delivery,” he said.

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