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South African Protest News 9- 24 July 2012 (2012) South African Protest News 9- 24 July 2012
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'We’ll make Durban ungovernable': cops
SAPA 20 July 2012

Durban metro police on Friday threatened to make the city ungovernable if municipal manager Sbu Sithole did not meet their demands.

“If this is moving at a snail's pace we will make the city ungovernable,” SA Municipal Workers Union regional secretary Nhlanhla Nyandeni said.

“(Durban metro police head) Eugene Nzama must be removed and we are not willing to compromise,” he said.

Metro police officers picketed outside the municipality's office on Friday, calling for Nzama's resignation.

They carried posters reading: “Away with incompetency (sic) of head of metro” and “Farewell Nzama”.

“We are struggling because of Nzama,” they sang.

Nyandeni said the city had promised to make contractors permanent employees by July 1. Protesters also wanted unqualified workers to be allowed to attend training..

Nzama returned to work last Monday after being placed on special leave earlier this year. The city's disaster management head Vincent Ngubane replaced Nzama.

Nzama however approached the Durban Labour Court to challenge his special leave and resumed his duties in July.

“We don't understand how Nzama was reinstated, we want answers,” Nyandeni said.

Sithole was not in his office to receive a memorandum of demands, and sent his deputy Sipho Cele.

“We are saddened that Sithole didn't come to address us. We wanted to hear it from the horse's mouth so we could hold him accountable,” Nyandeni said.

A metro police employee who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “We don't want Nzama, he is abusing us because he doesn't want us to be hired as permanent workers.”

Municipal spokesman Thabo Mofokeng said the city still intended converting contract workers to permanent employees.

“Nzama's issue is receiving attention. He also has rights as an employee.”

Earlier Durban's main street, Dr Pixley ka Seme Road (West Street), was blocked to traffic as the group protested outside City Hall.

On Thursday Nyandeni said that they would go ahead with the lunch-time picket, despite not officially having been informed that they had been granted permission. – Sapa

Union threatens city shutdown

Durban will grind to a standstill and the city will be ungovernable if Metro Police head Eugene Nzama is not sacked by Wednesday.

This was the promise made by SA Municipal Workers Union regional secretary Nhlanhla Nyandeni outside the Durban City Hall on Friday where more than 300 officers were picketing and at one stage blocked Dr Pixley ka Seme (West) Street causing a major traffic jam for about half an hour.

And now an unlikely alliance between officers and the taxi industry could see the two joining forces next week in a massive march.

The two have a common goal – to see Nzama being fired.

“If things continue to move at a snail’s pace then we will make Durban ungovernable,” Nyandeni said outside the city hall.

Late on Friday afternoon Durban mayor James Nxumalo promised to look into the striking officers’ grievances and report back to them within two weeks.

Earlier the picket almost turned violent when the officers – who were bearing placards with messages such as “Farewell Nzama” and “Away with incompetent metro head” – blockaded Dr Pixley ka Seme Street, preventing vehicles from driving past the city hall.

Frustrated motorists who found themselves in the middle of the turmoil hooted and shouted – much to the amusement of the officers.

“I have no problem with them picketing or striking or whatever it is that they’re doing but there should have been prior warning about the road closure,” said Mandlawenkosi Hadebe, a delivery truck driver.

The road was eventually opened when SAPS officers arrived at the city hall, almost 30 minutes later.

Singing derogatory songs about Nzama, the officers called on the municipal manager, Sibusiso Sithole, to fire Nzama as a matter of urgency.

“Eugene Nzama must be removed,” said Nyandeni to much applause. “We are not willing to compromise.”

The union and officers gave Sithole a Wednesday deadline, saying if Nzama reports to his office on the day then Durban “would feel the wrath of the officers”.

Nzama, who has had a stormy relationship with his subordinates for several years, was placed on three months’ special leave because of concerns over his safety and instability in the department under his leadership.

The police chief subsequently approached the Durban Labour Court to challenge the decision, but dropped the legal proceedings when he was told he could return to his post two weeks ago, much to the disappointment of many staff, the taxi industry and unions.

Municipal spokesman Thabo Mofokeng said Nzama’s return to work would not halt a probe into allegations of misconduct and abuse levelled against him by the union and taxi operators.

During Nzama’s leave, Sithole had asked the city’s disaster management head, Vincent Ngubane, who had been appointed as acting metro police head, to speedily address issues that Nzama had allegedly failed to deal with, including facilitating the permanent employment of 1 000 temporary police officers and sending over-age officers for police training.

Nxumalo also addressed this and told the crowd: “The municipality has budgeted for all its contract workers to be employed permanently and our decision still stands,” said.

Police officers said Nzama had disrupted all the plans that had been set in motion to turn around the metro police.

Earlier Nyandeni said the officers were disappointed that Sithole was not in his office to receive their memorandum of demands and had instead sent out his deputy Sipho Cele to accept it.

“We are saddened that Sithole didn’t come to address us. We wanted to hear it from the horse’s mouth so we could hold him accountable.”

Responding to the officers’ demands, Mofokeng said the city still intended converting contract workers to permanent employees. “And Nzama’s issue is receiving attention from the city manager,” he said.

In support of the officers, KZN Taxi Alliance general secretary Bafana Mhlongo said the taxi industry would also embark on a march on Wednesday to the legislature in Pietermaritzburg to hand a memorandum to Premier Zweli Mkhize.

“We were utterly disappointed when we heard that Nzama had been reinstated.

“We want him (Mkhize) to address our grievances and deal with Nzama,” he said, adding that taxis would be operating on a skeleton staff.

Durban metro cops threaten to strike
Nosihle Shelembe 18 July 2012

EThekwini metro police officers will strike if police head Eugene Nzama is not fired, the SA Municipal Workers' Union said on Wednesday.

“We will picket outside the City Hall on Friday between 11am and 2pm,” Samwu regional deputy secretary Nkosenhle Madlala said.

Madlala said the union held a meeting at the hall on Wednesday. Officers would report for work on Friday, but would not be at their posts between 11am and 2pm.

“We are in the process of getting permission from the police to hold the picket.”

In June, city manager Sbu Sithole announced Nzama was put on special leave for three months while the allegations against him by the union and taxi drivers were investigated.

The city's disaster management head Vincent Ngubane replaced Nzama.

Nzama however approached the Durban Labour Court to challenge his special leave and resumed his duties in July.

In May, taxi drivers went on a violent strike, claiming the eThekwini metro officers were unfairly targeting them.

Sithole said another reason for the special leave was to give the city time to assess what had caused the “instability” under Nzama's leadership.

“The third reason relates to serious security concerns against Mr Nzama, which have come to our attention. We believe as a city that we should take appropriate steps to protect him as our employee.”

Sithole did not say what these security concerns were.

Madlala said: “When Ngubane was in charge he addressed a lot of our grievances and the general feeling is that all the progress he has made might come to an end.”

Ngubane was willing to hold talks with the union, Madlala said.

In the time Ngubane acted as head, he sent about 59 officers for training. He also agreed with the union that the transfer of staff should take place within guidelines, and identified a lack of leadership.

“The metro police needs a deputy head of operations, 10 captains, and four superintendents. Those positions are critical to the operations of the unit,” Madlala said.

“There was a commitment from Ngubane to assist members who didn't meet the requirement to go to training and become fully-fledged officers.”

Madlala said the union had not had any formal communication with Sithole yet.

Municipal spokesman Thabo Mofokeng said the city would deal with the matter on Wednesday as it had not received any communication from the unions.

“Once we receive a complaint, then we can deal with it and understand their concerns.”

Mofokeng said metro police were part of the police force and thus an essential service.

“I do not want to speculate as to what will happen if they go on strike,” he said. – Sapa

Protesters arrested for looting, violence
SAPA 18 July 2012

Police have arrested 21 people for public violence and looting during two days of protests in Marquard, in the Free State.

Constable Maseleka Langa said the situation was calm on Wednesday.

He said foreign-owned shops had been looted in town and in the informal settlement since Monday night.

Residents handed a memorandum to the Setsoto local municipality with their service delivery complaints on Tuesday. The crowd, on returning to their residences, started looting foreign-owned shops in town.

Langa said those arrested would be charged with public violence.

Police would continue to monitor the situation in town. - Sapa

Pupils out of classrooms
IOL News 18 July 2012

While the nation celebrated former leader Nelson Mandela's birthday on Wednesday, pupils at a Cape Town school named after him had a lot less to cheer about, the Congress of SA Students said.

“No learning is happening here today. The pupils are doing a stay-away because their principal returned to school on Monday after claims of maladministration and corruption,” Cosas provincial secretary Samkelo Mqomboti said.

Around 2 500 pupils of the Dr Nelson Mandela High in Crossroads milled around corridors and outside classrooms, refusing to be taught.

Mqomboti said they were doing their best to make sure violence did not erupt, after a previous protest in March left facilities in flames and the automated gate off its hinges.

The pupils were unhappy with the way principal Linda Mnothoza was running the school, claiming they were asked to pay a R100 deposit for textbooks, when the facility was a “no-fee” school.

A member of the school's pupil committee, who did not want to be named, said corporal punishment was still in existence.

“There are beatings with a stick, on the hands. The school was like a dictatorship for the previous years and the other participating governing bodies did nothing. The principal was basically the governing body,” he said.

The boy said he was sure Mandela would be proud of the pupils's protest action.

“He would be happy because he's a freedom fighter. We're fighting for our rights again.”

The school and education department were not immediately available for comment. – Sapa

Community protests outside FFS Refiners
Erin Hanekom ( 13 July 2012

THE South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) and concerned residents protested at the gates of FFS Refiners in Teakwood Road, this morning.

Following the announcement earlier this week by the eThekwini Municipality that FFS Refiners was responsible for the release of possibly harmful chemicals into the air on Thursday, June 7, the SDCEA wants further investigations to take place.

“Although the municipality has confirmed that the refinery was responsible for the one incident, we know they are responsible for all prior instances as well. The chemicals that smell like cat urine pose a risk to the health of our families, and we will not let it continue. We will fight until legal action is enforced,” said Desmond D’Sa of the SDCEA.

Chanting on Teakwood Road, with posters and a coffin on display, residents called for FFS Refiners CEO Don Hunter to take responsibility for his actions. “If you are so sure you are not releasing harmful chemicals into the air, then move here with your family, and breathe the same air we do,” said Desmond.

A strong police presence ensured that the protest was peaceful. SDCEA members said the data they have collected over the past two years proves FFS refiners are responsible for the ‘cat urine’ smell that has plagued the Durban South Basin and are committed to proving it.

Parents protest over conditions at school
Frank Maponya Limpopo Bureau Chief (The Sowetan Live) 17 July 2012

ANGRY parents protested outside a primary school in Limpopo demanding teachers for their children.

Early yesterday, on the first day back after the winter school holidays, parents gathered at the gate of Luthuli Primary School in Seshego and locked teachers and the principal out. They said they were distressed by the Limpopo education department dragging its feet in employing more teachers to the allegedly short-staffed school.

The parents said they were aggrieved by the fact that their children risked their health by sitting on the floor in their classrooms because of a lack of chairs. They also said there were no books.

By 9am, parents were seen walking their children home, saying it was risky for them to remain at the school while it was clear that schooling would not take place.

Some said they did not know what would follow the protests so they decided to take their children home.

One parent said they had held several meetings with the authorities, which failed to yield positive results.

"We are going to continue with the protests until the department responds positively," she said.

Deputy chairman of the school governing body, Clifford Mohloana, said they were concerned about the health risks posed to children.

"It is winter and our children are subjected to the cold floors. This is not on," Mohloana said yesterday.

He said the chronic shortage of furniture at the school was of great concern and demanded that the education department look into it "as a matter of extreme urgency".

However, Limpopo education department spokesman Pat Kgomo dismissed the allegations and insisted that there were enough teachers at the school.

"The allegations are not true. As far as we are concerned there are enough teachers at that school."

He said they would meet with school authorities today in an attempt to normalise the situation "for proper learning and teaching to take place".

"We will find a way of addressing the shortage of resources," he said. -

Protest over hospital deaths
The Sowetan Live17 July 2012

Health MEC Clifford Mkasi is looking into claims that patients are dying at Tintswalo Hospital in Bushbuckridge because of a shortage of resources.
Mkasi received a memorandum of demands from angry residents following a protest march.

He told Sowetan that the allegations against the hospital needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

In the memorandum, the protesters, led by the Bushbuckridge Residents Association, have charged that:

•Patients were losing their lives at the hospital due to a shortage of resources and medicine most of the time;
•Doctors and nurses' safety was being compromised. Theft and attacks on staff was rife.
They have also demanded that a forensic investigation be held into allegations that the hospital management was involved in a R38-million questionable tender related to the procurement of medicine in the hospital.

The memorandum read: "There must be a proper forensic investigation on the allegations of corruption in the procurement of service providers rendering services in the hospital, i.e. R38-million internal tender wherein some senior managers were suspended. To date no one has been arrested."

One of the leaders of the Bushbuckridge Residents Association, Delta Mokoena, said the community should be given access to information in the hospital and that the hospital should give fair treatment to patients at all times.

"We believe that, in terms of the promotion of access to information, we have the right to access information from the hospital," Mokoena said.

"People are continuously losing their lives in this hospital due to a shortage of resources and medicine from time to time.

"The management of this hospital is doing practically nothing to better the situation."

In response, Mkasi told Sowetan, in part, that: "It must be noted that allegations remain allegations until proven otherwise.

"I have received the memorandum from the community members and I'm currently looking into their complaints as they have asked for my intervention."

Crowd gathers for mayor case
IOL News 16 July 2012

A large crowd gathered outside the Rustenburg Magistrate's Court on Monday morning ahead of the judgment in the case of the former mayor Matthew Wolmarans.

Wolmarans and his co-accused Enoch Mtshaba are appearing on a charge of killing councillor Moss Phakoe.

Phakoe was shot dead at his Rustenburg home in March 2009, two days after he had handed a document to former co-operative governance minister Sicelo Shiceka alleging corruption in the local municipality.

Wolmarans and Mtshaba were arrested last year together with businessman Oupa Mphomane and councillor Amos Mataboge. Charges against the Mphomane and Mataboge were dismissed earlier this year.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and ANC Youth League deputy president Ronald Lamola were expected to attend Monday's proceedings.

Two groups, one supporting Phakoe's family and the other Wolmarans, were outside court, while a large contingent of public order police looked on.

Nelson Mandela and Klopper streets were closed to traffic. – Sapa

Electricity meters spark protests
IOL News 13 July 2012

A ward councillor in Orange Farm had to run for her life from a multipurpose centre where protesters were gathered to register their opposition to prepaid electricity meters.

Residents in wards 3 and 5 sang and danced as they waited patiently for their ward councillor, Lindelwa June Nose, and officials from Eskom, and the departments of housing and local government, health, and arts and culture to address them. They said they had arranged the march weeks earlier. Nose never returned as she had to be ushered through the back door when angry residents stormed the place.

Zanele Mvusi, 25, was among the hundreds of dissatisfied residents. She had a stick in her hand that she kept raising to the sky to show her determination.

Mvusi was at the march to register her voice about the electricity issue in her area. She lives in Extension 7B and just outside her house are two big holes, one for water and the other for sewage. Both holes are not barricaded and she fears that her children will fall into them.

Mvusi has also inherited a legacy of an illegal electricity connection from her parents. She moved to her house in 1991, when she was just four years old. As far as she can remember she had never seen her parents pay for electricity and when her parents divorced, she inherited the house and the illegal connection.

She stays in the three-room corrugated iron shack with her children, a five-year-old son and a 14-month-old daughter. She has not had electricity for a month. “It is winter now and the house traps the winter chill,” she said.

Mvusi said she has to ask her neighbours across the road for hot water and to use their stove to cook meals.

“I have used up all their kindness and now I see they are tired of me always coming to their front door begging for help.”

The residents said they were told at a meeting that they would have to pay R2 000 per household for the installation of prepaid electricity metres, which they said they could not afford.

Mvusi is unemployed and relies on her children’s grant to survive. The little girl is enrolled at a day-care centre because during the day Mvusi looks for work. “I don’t have R2 000 to give to Eskom. If I have to do this in four instalments, it means my children will go hungry, because my children’s grant is R560.”

She said she did not mind paying for prepaid electricity, but it was the R2 000 that worried her.

To add to her woes, Mvusi has sewage problems. She cannot use her flushing toilet, because the dirty water fills the toilet pot and spills on to the floor.

So the family uses her next door neighbour’s pit toilet.

Tito Zwane, a regional sales and customer service manager at Eskom, arrived late at the multi-purpose centre to receive and sign the memorandum prepared by SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco).

The memorandum stated that the residents wanted Eskom to stop power cuts, reactivate old meter boxes so residents could continue buying units and also to activate new ones. Another issue was the closure of some of the recharge points. The residents want recharge points to be expanded to other areas and for Eskom to refund the R2 000 that other residents have paid in electricity units.

Eskom could not be reached for comment.
The Star

Cat urine stink making residents ill
Lee Rondganger 12 July 2012

Scores of South Durban residents are expected to march against a Clairwood chemical factory that has been blamed for emitting a cat urine-like odour that has plagued residents on the Bluff and in Austerville.

Residents, led by the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance will protest outside Fuel Firing System (FFS) Refiners in Clairwood on Friday where they are expected to hand over a memorandum to city health officials.

This comes as the eThekwini Municipality revealed it would be taking legal action against the company for the odour.

On Tuesday, the eThekwini Health Unit said investigations carried out by officials over an “incident” on Saturday had confirmed that the cat urine smell had come from FFS.
City spokesman Thabo Mofokeng said the health unit had identified particular “waste streams” which had been sent for laboratory testing.

Alison Haycock, FFS environmental manager, said the company had “inadvertently” brought on to the site a load of oil that contained a chemical that had a strong smell from bacterial activity.

“The breakdown product from this is methanethiol, which smells like rotten cabbage,” Haycock said.

The company had sent samples to a variety of experts for analysis. She said they were working with the Department of Health on a range of best practice systems that were to be implemented.

“The exact nature of these will unfold once the various investigations have been completed. The main concern is to develop a screening system to prevent the illegal dumping of any unknown chemicals on FFS that could have health and or nuisance impacts.”

Desmond D’sa of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance said the stench of cat urine had first beenrecorded in October 2010 and ever since had been a nuisance for communities of the Bluff, Austerville and Clairwood.

“This is not an isolated incident. It is time for us to stand against these companies. We have been threatened with legal action by the company but our message to them is that we welcome it. We want them to have their day in court. Our only aim is to see a behavioural change in the way chemical companies treat the communities around them,” D’sa said.
Haycock said the ongoing issue of the cat urine odour had been around most notably from September 2010 to November 2010.

“Various investigations by the Department of Health, FFS, a private investigator and the University of KZN did not lead to the source of this odour.

“We were and still are sure that we were not the cause of the ‘cat wee odour’ during this period,” she said.

Among those who plan to protest outside the factory on Friday are Elaine Ferreira and her sister, Carol Walsh, who both claim to have fallen ill in recent times because of the cat urine smell.

Ferreira said she had lived on the Bluff for 13 years and had always enjoyed good health.
But in the past six months, she had developed severe sinus problems; woke up in the early hours of the morning with nose bleeds; and had developed a terrible skin irritation.

“Sometime I wake up in the early hours of the morning and the smell of cat urine is so intense I have to close all the windows. It is ridiculous,” Ferreira said on Wednesday. “I constantly have an itchy throat, red eyes and these nose bleeds. It seems to be getting worse.”
Walsh said that while she had always suffered with asthma, in the past six months her doctor had increased the dosage of her medicine. She also believes her two-year-old grandson, Wesley Strydom, has been affected by the smell.

“It’s been so bad that we have had to take him (Wesley) out of day care because his immune system is so low. I’ve always lived on the Bluff, but of late, we all seem to be getting sicker,” she said.

After a community meeting on June 12, the environmental alliance has been chronicling people’s stories related to the odour.
According to a health report compiled by the alliance, of the 26 respondent questioned in the survey, 19 said they had experienced negative health effects.

“These health effects included: difficulty breathing, sinus issues, increased asthma issues, headaches, nose bleeds, worsened hay fever, dizziness, chest tightening, skin itching, vertigo, nausea, and flu,” the report stated.
“The most common health effects reported were sinus issues (12 of 19), headaches (10 of 19), nausea (6 of 19), and difficulty breathing (6 of 19).”

In addition the report found that at least 11 schools in the area have had the smell reach their grounds and at least 10 have reported students and staff being affected.
Five schools reported issues with nausea from the smell and eight reported issues with headaches. Six schools specifically mentioned that the staff was being affected by the smell.

12 arrested for school arson
IOL News 14 July 2012

Eight women and four men were arrested for allegedly setting classrooms on fire and damaging 15 computers during service delivery protests in Bona-Bona, North West police said on Saturday.

Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said the 12 people faced charges of arson, public violence and malicious damage to property.

They allegedly placed two gas cylinders in two separate class rooms on Wednesday.

“They opened them and set the classrooms alight... the staff room caught fire from the two classes and 15 computers which were in the room were badly burnt,” said Ngubane.

They also set alight three water tanks.

The residents were protesting over poor service deliver in the area.

The 12 were expected to appear in the Ganyesa Magistrate's Court on Monday. -Sapa

12 arrested for school arson
IOL News 14 July 2012

Eight women and four men were arrested for allegedly setting classrooms on fire and damaging 15 computers during service delivery protests in Bona-Bona, North West police said on Saturday.

Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said the 12 people faced charges of arson, public violence and malicious damage to property.

They allegedly placed two gas cylinders in two separate class rooms on Wednesday.

“They opened them and set the classrooms alight... the staff room caught fire from the two classes and 15 computers which were in the room were badly burnt,” said Ngubane.

They also set alight three water tanks.

The residents were protesting over poor service deliver in the area.

The 12 were expected to appear in the Ganyesa Magistrate's Court on Monday. -Sapa

Protesters burn school
IOL News 12 July 2012

Bona-Bona, North West - Fifteen school computers were burnt during the service delivery protest in Bona-Bona village in Morokweng, North West police said on Thursday.

Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said two classes and a staff room at Tlotlang Thuto Middle School were set alight on Wednesday by protesters demanding tarred roads, electricity and water in their area.

“Community members broke the burglar door of the school kitchen, took out two gas cylinders and placed them in each class,” he said.

“They opened them and set the classrooms alight. The staff room caught fire from the (fires in the) two classes and 15 computers which were in the rooms were badly burnt.”

When police were called they all fled, Ngubane said.

Ngubane said no arrests had been made but a case of arson, public violence and malicious damage to property had been opened.

Police were still keeping watch on Thursday. - Sapa

Quiet restored in Botshabelo
IOL News 11 July 2012

Botshabelo, Free State - Quiet has been restored in Botshabelo after xenophobic attacks last week, Free State police said on Wednesday.

Over 500 foreigners were displaced in the attacks by locals.

The SA Red Cross Society (Sarcs) said the attacks started when street vendors were removed from a place called Fairways, in Botshabelo, on July 3.

That night, angry residents broke into the businesses of Somalians, Chinese and Ethiopians and took goods and money. Some houses belonging to foreigners were burnt down.

On Wednesday afternoon, the local community, foreigners and community organisations met to end the conflict.

“All the parties agreed that the foreign nationals can go back to their places and there should be an end to the attacks,” said Sarcs Free State disaster officer Claudia Mangwegape.

Colonel Sam Makhele said quiet had been restored in Botshabelo, but that the police were still monitoring the situation.

“The situation is still fine. There have not been any reports of violence,” he said. - Sapa

Foreigners evicted from shops
IOL News 11 July 2012

Free State - Over 500 foreign nationals have been displaced in xenophobic attacks in Botshabelo in the Free State, the SA Red Cross Society (Sarcs) said on Wednesday.

“It all started when unregistered street vendors were removed in Botshabelo town at a place called Fairways on July 3,” the society said in a statement.

The same night, angry residents broke into businesses of Somalians, Chinese and Ethopians. They took goods and money from the shops, and some houses belonging to foreign nationals were burnt down.

The Red Cross said it was currently supporting 584 displaced foreigners at the community hall, providing food, blankets and other aid.

“Sarcs is pleading with the public, businesses and corporates to assist with clothes, school uniforms, toiletries and food to help the victims.”

Police confirmed the attacks, but said the situation in Botshabelo was calm on Wednesday.

Claudia Mangwegape of the Red Cross in the Free State said a meeting was held on Wednesday between locals, foreign nationals and community organisations in a bid to end the conflict.

The outcome was expected later in the afternoon. - Sapa

Gang leaders behind attacks, say Somalis
Neo Maditla 13 July 2012

New gang leaders trying to popularise themselves are behind the spate of attacks on foreign shopkeepers in Cape Town, according to the Western Cape branch of the Somali Association of SA.

The association said on Thursday that “Somali-phobia” was to blame for the latest attacks on foreign-owned shops in Valhalla Park and Beacon Valley in Mitchells Plain.

Chairman Abdikadir Mohamed said the association’s members in Valhalla Park have been told that new gang leaders who were trying to “stamp their authority” in the area were behind attacks on Somali-owned shops on Tuesday.

He said it was disappointing that police stood by while shops were being looted in Valhalla Park this week.

On Thursday, four more shops were petrol-bombed in Beacon Valley.

“The violence starts in one area and because Somalis and refugees have no one to stand up for them, the violence will start to spread. I don’t call it xenophobia. I call it Afrophobia, or even Somali-phobia, because it does not affect anyone who is not African,” Mohamed said.

He said most of the shop owners had fled to Bellville where they were staying with family and friends while they waited for the situation in the communities to change.

The Police Ministry was quick to quell any suggestions of xenophobia, saying it was looking at a multifaceted approach to tackle the problem, which involved working with civil society.

Zweli Mnisi, spokesman for Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, said: “There are other challenges which the government is looking into because you have a situation of socio-economic challenges in the country… which we are not going to ignore, and one of them has to do with the regulation of trade between small and informal businesses.

“Some of the tension arises as a result of some competition, particularly at that level… in a normal situation shopkeepers or spaza shop owners will be in competition for prices, but because it happens with other nationals (foreigners), it becomes an issue. We are going to be ensuring that it is dealt with.”

Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said: “The SAPS will have to stop people from looting and threatening spaza shop owners before it spills over into other communities, which is what appears to be already happening.

“The police need to take control of this situation before it is out of their grasp, they need to make arrests, and these people need to appear in court to account for their actions.”

Puntan's Hill Shack Dwellers Blockade Umngeni Road
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement
12 July 2012

Puntan's Hill Shack Dwellers Blockade Umngeni Road

At around 3 a.m. this morning angry residents of the Puntan's Hill shack settlement blocked Umngeni Road with tyres in protest at their dissatisfaction with Cllr. Bhekisani Ngcobo. When Ngcobo was mobilising for votes he promised them that as soon as he takes office as a councillor he would electrify their shacks. The shacks have never been electrified and last week someone was killed while trying to make a self-organised connection.

Ngcobo has not kept any of his promises. The community have tried several times to talk to him but he has neglected them and ignored their demand. Once more the poor have been used as ladders by politicians. This is why they decided to block the road this morning.

At about 4 a.m. this morning some white drunk guys who were driving a car with number plate NPN 21481 forcibly drove through the protesters. They knocked 3 protesters. One passed away in hospital and two others were badly injured.

Between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. around 60 police came with vans and big police trucks and commanded the protesters to disperse in 10 minutes. The people refused to disperse. The police then threw tear gases at the protesters and chased them into their homes. They then threw tears gas inside their homes far from where the blockade was taking place. A number of children were exposed to tear gas in their homes. The police also arrested 3 people in their homes. Some of the people that were attacked and arrested in their homes were not part of the protest.

The community is very angry. They are saying that they will continue to raise their voices against the government that has turned a blind eye on to them. They are well aware that when they raise their voices the government will send his police to scare them but they will stand firm.

The Puntan's Hill shack settlement has never been affiliated to Abahlali baseMjondolo. They chose to support Bhekisani Ngcobo in his campaign to become the first shack dweller to be the councillor of this ward. They have now lost faith in Ngcobo. They have approached AbM for support and we are happy to support them in their struggle.

As AbM we want to say that it is time for the politicians and councillors to stop using the police as their shields when they fail to meet the needs of the people. The police should be there to safeguard the community and not to attack them when they raise their voices to the councillors.

The Zakheleni shack settlement in Umlazi has just recently suffered a similar attack from the police who shot at them with rubber bullets while they were protesting. The community there have now occupied the office of the Ward 88 Councillor, Nomzamo Mkhize.

As Abahlali we always warned the government that the anger of the people goes in many way. We have always tried to get the government to engage the poor seriously and respectfully. But they choose instead to ignore the poor and then, when we raise our voices, to repress us with their police and their thugs.

We therefore repeat our demand for Nigel Gumede to step down. He has failed to respond to the housing crisis in Durban and he has failed to engage poor people in Durban with respect. For as long as Gumede remains in his position protests will continue to be organised from shack settlements across the city.

In Umlazi the community occupation is ongoing. In Puntan's Hill the shack settlement is currently under police occupation. In 2012 the shacklands of Durban don't look that much different to how they looked in the apartheid era. The conditions are the same. The tear gas is the same. The road blockades and police violence are the same. The struggle to be recognised as human beings is the same.

The comrades in Puntan's Hill are nervous to put their names on press statements while their settlement is under police occupation. But for more information please contact:

Bandile Mdlalose: 071 424 2815
Mnikelo Ndabankulu: 081 309 5485
AbM office 031 304 6420

Mob barricades roads over electricity
Benita Enoch 12 July 2012

Durban - Protest action erupted near the Durban city centre early on Thursday morning, as a mob of approximately 500 community members took to the streets with stones and burning tyres.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge said residents of an informal settlement near the vicinity of Springfield, were protesting the disconnection of electricity by municipal officials. He said the electricity had allegedly been illegally connected.

“Access routes along uMngeni Road, Old North Coast Road and Alpine Road were blocked by the protesters from about 4am. With the help of metro police, the Road Traffic Inspectorate and the SAPS, the situation was normalised by around 9am.

Mdunge said isolated reports of damage to property were being investigated, but at the time of talking to IOL, no such reports of damage could be confirmed.

He said an incident involving a car and a pedestrian, in which the pedestrian was allegedly knocked down and killed, would also be investigated.

“Our reports indicate that this incident (the car accident) was unrelated to the protest action and would be investigated separately.”

Less than a month ago, protests erupted in uMlazi, south of Durban, by the Unemployed People's Movement .

On June, 27, the group tried to occupy the office of a ward councillor in the area.

They claim police shot three of their members using live ammunition. It was a claim strongly refuted by police who accused the group of trying to take the law into their own hands. - IOL

Cosatu 12 July 2012

The Congress of South African Trade Unions with its affiliates will be going back to the toll gate on Friday13 July 2012 as part of our commitment to the masses of our poor working class to march, picket and demonstrate at the toll gate every two weeks until we get what the poor people want as per the memorandums submitted.

We are going back to the toll gate with our members and the support of the communities to demand our response from the MEC of transport in the NW. We will also hand over another memorandum to the minister of transport and the Sanral CEO on the same matter that is killing our poor communities in the NW.

It is about time that government takes us serious. We have been very patient for too long. Government must not think that we are unaware of their delaying tricks. We are very clear that they are playing games, hoping that we will forget about these criminals who are stealing from the poor.

The toll gate of Swartruggens is stealing from the poor and that is not going to be allowed by the federation. It has taken a lot of our money for ten years. That is much too long, and they have managed to get the money back.

We are calling all motorists on 13 July 2012 not to use the N4 road from 13h00 to 18h00. We call on those who are with us in fighting this criminality to join us on that day, as will be using our cars to close the road and then handing over the memorandum at 15h00.

Our action will be starting from 12h00 until 18h00, when we will be completing our programme of action for the day. This is part of our programme of fighting against e-tolling, the labour brokers in our country, and to save our poor working class from criminals and corruption.

All workers, all motorists, all communities, all media in the NW are requested to support our campaign.

It is must be made very clear that if the owners of the toll gate are not prepared to decrease the fee from R71 to R20, 00 as per the COSATU position, then the toll gate must be removed from our public road.
We have been on the street for some time, with no positive action. We must now take action as workers of this province.

For more information feel free to call COSATU NW Provincial Secretary, Solly Phetoe, [0823044055]

Cosatu affiliated-unions declare wage dispute
Mail & Guardian 12 July 2012

Public service unions have declared a formal dispute with the government, raising the prospect of a major strike after months of wage negotiations.

Eight Cosatu-affiliated unions have declared a wage dispute with the government - the first step to a full-blown strike. (Nadine Hutton, M&G)
Our CoverageWage agreement buys ANC timeWage talks grind to a halt as unions report backWages up as unemployed queues growMore CoverageZuma calls for citizens to build 'the South African vision'Eight unions affiliated to the powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Wednesday they had taken the decision after the government withdrew an enhanced offer of a 6.9% wage increase and reverted to an earlier 6.7%.

The unions, whose members include teachers and health workers, are asking for a 7.9% hike.

Declaration of a dispute is the first step towards launching a strike.

In its February budget, the government allowed for a wage increase of only 5% for public servants, adding that a huge state salary bill was crowding out investment in infrastructure and other key productive sectors.

The government has faced hundreds of protests in poorer communities and townships over problems with electricity, water, sanitation, public transport and health and education services.

Chief union negotiator Mugwena Maluleke said a mediator would now have to be appointed in the wage dispute, with talks expected to last about 30 days.

In the event of "failure to find a solution, we will hit the streets", he told a news conference.

On Tuesday, the government cancelled a news conference called to announce details of the "wage settlement" reached between the two sides. – Reuters

Rustenburg vigilantes turn violent
IOL News 10 July 2012

Thekwane, North West - Violence broke out at Thekwane village, near Rustenburg, when the police intervened in a mob justice attack, North West police said on Tuesday.

About 200 people assaulted an alleged robber with sticks and stones on Monday evening, said Brigadier Thulani Ngubane.

“The police tried to calm the situation down by agreeing with members of the community to gather at a local school in order to explain and clarify the procedure,” he said in a statement.

“When the police arrived at the school, they found the gate blocked with stones. While trying to clear the gate, the community started attacking the police by throwing stones.”

Ngubane said five police cars were damaged.

“The police retaliated with warning shots, trying to disperse the volatile community members,” he said.

Ngubane said police arrested the alleged robber. The 33-year-old man had to be hospitalised.

No other injuries were reported, he said. - Sapa

Five released after Zuma lecture violence
IOL News 10 July 2012

Thohoyandou - Five ANC Youth League supporters were detained and released on a warning on Tuesday after violence erupted at a hall in Limpopo, where President Jacob Zuma was speaking.

“They were an unruly group of people who started in the afternoon by blocking off the roads,” said Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi.

About 300 supporters of expelled ANCYL president Julius Malema converged outside the Holy Worship Church hall, in Thohoyandou, before Zuma arrived.

They carried banners with Malema's picture and sang: “Zuma is troubling us”.

They became involved in a fight with ANC security officers when the entered the hall at 4pm.

“Those people are anti-Zuma and came inside the venue and started singing anti-Zuma songs. Then the ANC security inside the hall contained them and assaulted them,” said Mulaudzi, adding that the police were called in to defuse the situation.

“Five of them, who were among those singing anti-Zuma songs, were bundled into a police van and taken away from the venue.

“We then gave them a serious warning to refrain from causing problems in the area. They complied and were released on a warning.”

Mulaudzi was unable to say what happened to the security officials who assaulted them.

Zuma began speaking after 5pm. Violence continued outside the hall during his address.

“They continued to cause a disruption. Even when President Zuma started and was busy with the lecture, they were pelting police with stones,” said Mulaudzi.

“We had to use a water cannon to disperse them.... We have now neutralised them. The situation is under control.”

Zuma's lecture was about the legacy of former president Nelson Mandela.

Part of it touched on the history of the youth league in Mandela's time.

Mandela and his friend Oliver Tambo were founding members of the ANC Youth League, which was established in 1944.

“The ANC youth was impatient with the leadership of the time, whom they felt were too gentlemanly in their approach to the struggle,” said Zuma.

He likened Mandela to a “magnet” which attracted people “through persuasion”.

“Inside our country, even those who were, and who are still, fundamentally opposed to the ANC, and who fought tooth and nail to keep South Africa a racist pariah state, now claim Nelson Mandela as their own,” said Zuma.

“Such is the power of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, a unique and great statesman who is able to win over even his enemies.”

During the first 10 years of democracy, five of which were under Mandela's leadership, 789 laws or amendments aimed at removing apartheid laws, were approved by Parliament.

“He (Mandela) worked tirelessly to change South Africa for the better,” said Zuma.

Madiba remained a loyal and disciplined member of the ANC through “thick and thin”, he said.

“The abiding lesson to us is that all South Africans should continue the reconciliation project that he so passionately led on behalf of the ANC.

“Our differences should not set us apart from one another, but should be the compelling reason for us to draw closer to forge a common future, all of us, black and white.”

Zuma said South Africa still had many hills to climb.

One of them was social and economic emancipation, as outlined at the party's policy conference last week.

“One hill that we must climb together is one taking us to true economic and social emancipation,” said Zuma.

“As the ANC we have outlined the vision of economic emancipation.... We look forward to tangible resolutions at the national conference in Mangaung on the economy, taking forward our discussions at the policy conference last month.”

On Wednesday, the ANC will be in Mvezo in the Eastern Cape, Mandela's birthplace, to launch the Nelson Mandela Legacy Bridge over the Mbashe river.

Zuma's spokesman Mac Maharaj could not immediately be reached for comment. - Sapa

Malema backers cause chaos
IOL News 11 July 2012

President Jacob Zuma had to sneak in and out of a Limpopo church hall through the back door on Tuesday to avoid angry ANC Youth League protesters, who clashed with police at the front door.

Zuma entered the Christ Worship Church in Thohoyandou through the back door and surrounded by a heavy police guard, avoiding the booing and heckling by supporters of expelled ANCYL president Julius Malema. He was more than an hour late to deliver the Nelson Mandela memorial lecture.

At the front, defiant ANCYL members and Malema supporters chanted anti-Zuma songs. About 300 of them gathered with banners with Malema’s picture and sang “Zuma is troubling us”.

“They were an unruly group of people who started in the afternoon by blocking off the roads,” said Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi.

They became involved in a fight with ANC security officers when Zuma arrived.

“Those people are anti-Zuma and came inside the venue and started singing anti-Zuma songs. Then the ANC security inside the hall contained them and assaulted them,” said Mulaudzi, adding that the police were called in to defuse the situation.

“Five of them, who were among those singing anti-Zuma songs, were bundled into a police van and taken away from the venue. We then gave them a serious warning to refrain from causing problems in the area. They complied and were released on a warning.”

Mulaudzi was unable to say what happened to the security officials who assaulted them.

Zuma began speaking after 5pm. Violence continued outside the hall during his address.

“They continued to cause a disruption. Even when President Zuma started and was busy with the lecture, they were pelting police with stones,” said Mulaudzi.

“We had to use a water cannon to disperse them… We have now neutralised them. The situation is under control.”

Police also fired tear gas to disperse the antagonistic factions.

Provincial ANCYL chairman Rudzani Ludere, secretary Jacob Lebogo and regional chairman Jossie Buthane were kicked out of the hall for demanding “change”.

Malema supporters sang “Shawara wa re sokodisa”, while making showerhead gestures. This is a derogatory reference to Zuma’s 2005 comment about taking a shower to minimise the chance of infection after having sex with an HIV-positive woman.

Some youth league supporters were allegedly assaulted inside the venue by police and Zuma supporters. In response they tore a T-shirt, bearing Zuma’s face, off a supporter of the president.

Security at the venue was tight, and the cops didn’t take any chances. Police stopped and searched vehicles and passengers from as far away as 8km from the venue.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa condemned the incident.

He told SABC radio: “Those people should have known what kind of a leader Madiba was… very radical, very militant, but a very disciplined cadre of the movement, and that’s how he grew through the echelons of the movement to be where he was as he left office.”

Inside the hall, Zuma described Mandela as an exceptional leader.

He said Mandela had provided leadership at a time when the country faced potential conflict, following the killing of SACP and ANC leader Chris Hani in 1993.

“He comforted the oppressed masses. While they were in shock and in pain, he spoke as the president even before he became the president of the country,” said Zuma.

He said Mandela chose to cast his vote in 1994 in KwaZulu-Natal to honour the ANC’s founding president, John Langalibalele Dube.

“The inaugurating of Nelson Mandela… as the first democratically elected president was the most liberating moment for all peace-loving people in South Africa, Africa and the world,” said Zuma.

He said Mandela was an exceptional leader for the ANC and SA.

“He was truly the president South Africa needed during the fragile period. He worked tirelessly to change South Africa for the better,” said Zuma.

He likened Mandela to a “magnet” that attracted people “through persuasion”.

“Inside our country, even those who… fought tooth and nail to keep South Africa a racist, pariah state, now claim Nelson Mandela as their own,” said Zuma.
The Star

We can’t stay any longer - Somalis
Daneel Knoetze 11 July 2012

Scores of Somali businessmen packed up and fled Valhalla Park after their shops were firebombed and looted on Tuesday.

Groups of between 60 and 100 people, some including young children, ransacked Somali businesses. Three shops were petrol-bombed, destroying them, and a policeman is in hospital after being hit on the head by a brick.

A source at Bishop Lavis police station, who asked not to be named for fear of being targeted by gangs, said The Firm – also known as the 28s gang – was behind the attacks.

“It’s about protection money. The gangs try to extort money from the shopkeepers. If a settlement cannot be reached, shops are burnt down.”

On Tuesday morning, groups of Somali men dismantled their spaza shops across Valhalla Park and adjacent Kalksteenfontein. Zinc sheets, wooden frames and stock were loaded into vans and taken away.

“We can’t stay here any longer,” said Omar Hazan, 17. He has been in SA for a year and a half and was working at a Somali shop in Valhalla Park.

“Somalia is dangerous, but today I think that it is better than being here. Here people are targeting us, some of them want us dead.”

Hazan was employed by Abdi Salaan Sheikh Muhamad, who has been in the country since 2005.

Muhamad thwarted an attempt to burn down his shop by disposing of an unexploded petrol bomb with his bare hands. The bomb had been flung through an opening in the wall through which he served customers.

“I picked it up and threw it outside. We doused the flames with water and a fire extinguisher,” Muhamad said.

He chased the attackers, but they sped off in a car without registration plates.

Hazan said: “They were shooting at me as they were fleeing.”

Muhamad did not suffer any losses or property damage, but said it was time to move. “Maybe we can set up a shop in Bellville.”

He also believes the attackers are gangsters. He says he received a phone call from a private number on Monday night demanding he pay R800 a day in protection money.

“I cannot pay this. I offered them R80 a day, but they said they would kill me and hung up.”

Four shops were looted by residents, said police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut.

Captain Marie Louw, communications officer at the Bishop Lavis police station, said: “Often such incidents can lead to a free-for-all of opportunistic crime.

“Criminal individuals in the community will see attacks on Somali businesses as an opportunity to loot the targeted and other shops.”

Some shopkeepers were robbed as they loaded stock into vans.

Police were a visible presence at most locations and the situation had been brought under control, said Louw, although at mid-afternoon children as young as six were sifting through the ruins of a shop razed by fire.

In September 2010, a mob of about 300 people marched through Valhalla Park, looting and vandalising Somali-owned spaza shops.

Most residents asked for their views said they did not condone the attacks.

“These are hard-working, good people. They have come here as entrepreneurs and they provide a good service to the community,” said Ashleen de Villiers, a resident of Kalksteenfontein.

“Tell me, where am I to find another shop where I can buy bread for R3.50, or a shopkeeper who will let me buy on credit when my money runs out at the end of the month? I had a good relationship with (the shopkeeper).”

The spazas were a necessity as supermarkets were far away, said Suleiga (surname withheld).

“Where will we shop now? Our children will have to walk very far to buy groceries,” she said. “It is dangerous. They will be mugged and have their money stolen. The girls are in danger of being raped along the way.”
Cape Argus

Two held for public violence
IOL News 9 July 2012

Two people were arrested for public violence during a protest between Phase 4 and Phase 5 in Mangaung on Monday, Free State police said.

Warrant Officer Zweli Mohobeleli said about 300 protesters barricaded Dewetsdorp road with rocks. Police used stun grenades to disperse them when they refused to clear the road.

Mohobeleli said protesters pelted police with stones when two men were arrested, after the protest started in the morning over service delivery.

The barricaded road was being cleared and no injuries had been reported, he said.

The arrested men would appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on Wednesday. – Sapa

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