Inside the deadly Standerton protest

Inside the deadly Standerton protest
Protesting community members take cover under corrugated iron sheets during the deadly protest in Sakhile, Standerton. PICTURE BY Caxton Media.

Sources say a battle for control between the mayor and the municipal manager is behind all the scuffles in the area the latest of which turned out to be deadly.

Calls for Lekwa mayor Linda Dlamini and municipal manager Linda Tshabalala to step down gained momentum this weekend following the killing of a 14-year-old boy last Friday at mid-day.

The South African National Civic Organisation in the Gert Sibande region asked that the situation in the Standerton area not be made an issue of Dlamini and Tshabalala because doing so “won’t respond to the genuine service delivery issues that the people of Lekwa are raising”.

SANCO regional spokesman Howard Vilakazi said making the service delivery issue an issue of the differences between Dlamini and Tshabalala will divert focus from the voices of the community who complain about potholes, dirty water, electricity outage, corruption and misuse of public funds and this will “render us blind and ignorant to what is genuinely being raised”.

Tshabalala is said to be “a man on his own”, according to sources privy to the matter, and “not taking instructions from Dlamini,” a source of their differences.

SEE HERE: Sanco condemns killing of a 14-year-old boy in Standerton

The DA late last year slammed Tshabalala after it appeared that he approved an agreement to rent cars used by municipal officials.

The DA’s Jansen van Rensburg said the municipality missed an opportunity to improve service delivery and create jobs after Tshabalala approved paying R1.4 million a month to Afrirent, “in a vehicle rental contract that is due to last 36 months”.

Van Rensburg said: “This contract includes the rental of a BMW X5 for the executive mayor, councillor Linda Dlamini, at R26 700 a month”.

SANCO wants Tshabalala arrested following the alleged disappearance of R21 million from municipal coffers. A case of fraud and corruption was opened against Tshabalala in April 2017.


Inside the deadly Standerton protest
Municipal manager Linda Tshabalala


Inside the deadly Standerton protest
Mayor of Lekwa Linda Dlamini

The cops in Standerton said they would hand over the case to the Hawks.

On Friday SANCO was going to march to the Standerton police station, demanding that the cops hand the case over to the Hawks and that the Hawks arrest Tshabalala.

After this the march was going to the Lekwa local municipality, where SANCO was going to hand over a memorandum complaining about lack of service delivery.

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But this didn’t occur – instead it erupted into protests across the Sakhile township, with people blockading streets and roads with burning tyres and rocks, looting shops owned by foreign nationals.

The home of Tshabalala was vandalised.

A 14-year-old boy was killed when police opened a live ammunition trying to contain a large group coming towards them and scores were injured.

“Personalising the issues to individuals won’t respond to the genuine service delivery issues raised,” Vilakazi said.

ANC regional chairman Muzi Chirwa summoned both Tshabalala and Dlamini on Friday, to come account for the situation.

Inside the deadly Standerton protest
ANC Gert Sibande chairman Muzi Chirwa.

Another meeting was called on Saturday where Lekwa branches were consulted, allegedly on the need to recall Dlamini.

Sources say one of these meeting was disrupted when MK veterans entered, wanting to assault Dlamini but regional ANC spokesman Sabelo Sikhakhane said “not really that the meeting was disrupted as the word disrupt means.”

“It was just individuals who wanted to sway the decisions of the ANC to their direction,” said Sikhakhane

It is said that Tshabalala now enjoys the protection of the MK.

“There’s no formal decision taken by the MK to protect comrade Linda. Whatever protection he has is his own personal protection,” said Sikhakhane

“We will communicate everything once we have completed our own investigations with regard to the situation in Lekwa,” he said.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate is investigating the killing of the boy after live ammunition was fired by cops.

The office of SANCO provincial secretary in the Mpumalanga province, Mike Soko, slammed the ‘lobbying’ for the removal of Dlamini as Lekwa mayor.

Dlamini is the chairperson of SANCO is the Lekwa sub-region.

“It is saddening to learn that the root cause of the protest in Lekwa is being ignored in pursuit of factional political ends,” Soko said.

“The standard of living of our people in Lekwa requires urgent attention as service delivery continues to deteriorate, not the continuous centralisation of political figures.

“SANCO can only advise its alliance partners, in particular the ANC as the deploying authority, to carefully consider its options in dealing with this matter in the best interest of the people of Lekwa and its inhabitants,” Soko said.

(edited by ZK)

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