Seventy people were arrested for public violence during a service delivery protest in Hennenman in the Free State yesterday. Police spokesperson Tlalanyane Pakela says the protesters tried to burn down shops and disrupted schools. They also barricaded roads with burning tyres and stones, and shops were looted. Police managed to gain control over the situation and the town is calm this morning. According to Pakela, learners will return to school today but police members will remain on high alert in the area.
This comes after around 180 people were arrested in Sasolburg during violent protests that started on Sunday. Police spokesperson Peter Kareli said that while everything seems to be calm this morning, the situation is still extremely volatile. Motorists were warned to avoid roads in and around Sasolburg, particularly the R57 and R82 as protesters are throwing passing cars with stones. According to Kareli some protesters were also throwing petrol bombs last night.
The protests flared up on Sunday after a meeting was held with community members where the merging between Metsi Maholo Municipality and Ngwathe Local Municipality was suggested. A spokesperson for Metsi Maholo, Gino Alberts, said yesterday that the violent situation could be attributed to “street talk” and that protesters did not have all the facts. According to Alberts the merging of the municipalities is simply a suggestion at this stage.