LISTEN: Unrest erupts in Bfn over service delivery

Armed members of the South African Police Services were on the R702 clearing the barricaded road whilst trying to bring the protests under control. PHOTO: PIERCE VAN HEERDEN

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“You asked us to do what you want and now when you have to give us what you said you will give us, now you are denying it. People cannot be given services just because certain politicians are interested in their own looting and agendas in Mangaung. Mangaung is collapsing, people are suffering and they are using police to target certain people in the community,” said the Co-ordinator of the Mangaung Service Delivery Forum, Mpho Mojanaga.

This comes after protest action flared up at the newly established Phomolong Informal Settlement in Mangaung after disgruntled community members took to the R702 to bring traffic to a standstill until their demands are met. Hundreds of community members took to the streets to show their discontent regarding the manner in which the government has dealt with their issues. Mojanaga said there have been problems related to service delivery and the councillor candidate in the area.

“The current councillor of ward 51 is illegitimate and does not have the right to be called the councillor of this particular ward. People have written memorandums, they have marched to their offices, and they have made an appeal to the Provincial Election Team, and I can tell you now that a verdict was taken by the provincial election team that the re-run for elections and nominations in this ward should be done. But no communication has been made with the community. People within this ward have evidence beyond reasonable doubt that the candidate they wanted to become the councillor was robbed of what was rightfully his and mandated to him by the community,” said Mojanaga.

According to him, infrastructure like water, sanitation, electricity and roads cannot come to the area as it is not formalized. He added that the community has been deceived by members of the government after residents were placed in the settlement six months ago. “Now that is deception; you can’t lead people and ask them to vote for you but you deceive them in relation to the service delivery you have to give to them. It means that what is only important to you as a leader is only votes while the well-being of residents is not taken into account,” said Mojanaga.

He added that some residents have started building permanent structures, but there has been no formalization; thus, it means that when the formalization happens, people will have to demolish their structures to fit the zones. “I can tell you now on record without any fear of contradiction that the Municipality has told the people in this particular area that they are formalized,” said Mojanaga.

Community members have two demands, the first being an holistic integrated development infrastructure and service delivery, and the second being the re-election of the councillor. The protest started early yesterday morning, which led to the arrest of seven residents. The community members have demanded the Premier, the Mayor and other politicians, who “made promises”, to come to the area. Police spokesperson Thabo Covane said the people arrested included the “ring leader” of the protests.

The protesters will appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrate Court on Friday. Bloemfontein Courant is awaiting response from the Mangaung Metro Municipality.

Pierce van Heerden & Blaine Jones &