Residents burn vehicles and tyres during a protest. Photo Credit: (Gallo Images/Volksbald/Mlungisi Louw)
- SALGA has called for calm and restraint in Mangaung amid violent protests that started on Sunday.
- Dozens of incidents of alleged public violence, theft, vehicle hijackings and business robberies have been reported.
- It is alleged residents were protesting against poor service delivery in the metro.
The SA Local Government Association (SALGA) has called for calm and restraint in Mangaung amid the violent protests that have already led to the arrests of 70 people for looting and public violence.
In a statement on Wednesday, SALGA expressed deep concern at the events unfolding in the Free State municipality.
“As the national membership body of South African municipalities, SALGA acknowledges the complexity of grievances raised by concerned residents and also respects the right to peaceful protest in accordance with Section 17 of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa,” the statement read.
“However, we urge disaffected Mangaung residents to engage in peaceful and lawful protest action. Media reports of public violence and the looting of shops run by small business owners are simply untenable.”
SALGA said disaffected residents have the responsibility of exercising their rights in a manner that did not prevent, hinder nor restrict the rights of others.
The body urged residents not to take their frustrations out on municipal infrastructure, which negatively impacted the delivery of basic services and amenities to the most vulnerable communities.
“SALGA, therefore, calls for calm, restraint and expresses hope that the ongoing protest action in the metro comes to a speedy and amicable end.
“SALGA will continue to monitor the situation while standing ready to assist the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality in finding solutions to service delivery-related challenges in the metro.”
News24 earlier reported 70 people had been arrested so far in connection with the protests that saw the looting of shops and the death of a teenager.
The protests, which started on Sunday evening in an apparent attempt to shut down Mangaung, resulted in dozens of incidents of alleged public violence, theft, vehicle hijackings and business robberies.
According to police, many of the looted shops, some of which were also severely damaged in the past 24 hours, were foreign-owned.
“The police deployed in Mangaung to manage disruptive actions made additional arrests in the past 24 hours,” said police spokesperson Brigadier Motantsi Makhele.
Makhele added there were flare-up protests in other parts of the Free State, including Soutpan, Dewetsdorp and Zastron.
“In [the] Zastron protests, about 20 people were arrested … for public violence and looting which took place at foreign nationals’ shops as well.”
Meanwhile, the man arrested for allegedly shooting a 15-year-old appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court, where he was granted bail of R1 000.
Abel Lefu Letsela, 57, has been charged with culpable homicide.
News24 previously reported the teenager was killed during an incident where a group of protesters had attacked a warehouse in Dr Belcher Road, Bloemfontein.
Letsela, a security guard, was alone on duty at the time and allegedly fired a shot in an attempt to scare and disperse the mob. The teenager was hit and died on the scene.
The case was postponed to 9 June for further investigation.
In a separate incident on the same day, a 41-year-old manager of Mangaung Metro Solid Waste, who was on his way to work, was allegedly stopped and hijacked by three men in a silver Isuzu bakkie, police spokesperson Brigadier Motantsi Makhele said.
“Three males from the bakkie approached him, and one-pointed [at] him with a firearm and instructed him to get out of the vehicle. They then drove away with his BMW, and after a few minutes, the vehicle was recovered burnt [in] MacKenzie Street. A case of hijacking has been registered for further investigation,” Makhele added.