Copesville protesters burn councillor’s offices

“People are fed-up with promises”

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Photo of a burnt clinic
Protesters burnt down the temporary clinic in Copesville. Photo: Ntombi Mbomvu

Residents of Copesville in Pietermaritzburg burned the ward councillor’s office yesterday, setting on fire all the furniture. The residents want the councillor to quit.

The protests started on Monday when residents of Haniville, Pakkies informal settlement, Copesville and other areas marched, demanding that councillor Thandi Ndlovu leave her position.

Part of Ndlovu’s home was set alight on Monday. She is reported to be in hiding and her house has been under surveillance by security guards.

A total of 27 suspects have been arrested and charged with public violence, according to SAPS KwaZulu-Natal Major Thulani Zwane.

The residents also set alight a temporary clinic.

Community member Mbongeni Nodada said attempts to prevent damage to property had been unsuccessful.

He said the damage to the ward councillor’s office had delayed a planned visit this week by Department of Home Affairs officials to the ward to collect applications for Identity Documents applications. The burning down of the temporary clinic had disrupted day to day clinic services, he said.

“The residents were promised a proper clinic five years ago. People are angry and they are fed up with promises. The ward councillor’s office was burnt because it never provided the services it was meant to give to the people. People were not able to use it to get ward councillor’s letters which work as proof of address. People had to travel to town instead of using the office in the ward. That alone angered so many residents who then decided to burn it down,” said Nodada.

Yesterday there were stones and branches of trees along some of the roads in Copesville, ready for use in protests. On some street corners people were gathered in groups.

Nozipho Mbhele said nothing would stop residents continuing with their protest. She said she was among residents who did not have electricity and she believed that she had a right to protest.

Asked if burning community property was useful, she replied: “We have been patient enough with all of the empty promises. Our ward has had issues for years but no one cares. I don’t have electricity because I have to pay R800 for installation. Where am I going to get that? I live in a shack and I’m unemployed. I have no choice but to join my brothers and sisters in the protest.

“The protest will continue if the relevant officials don’t show their faces here. We don’t want Ndlovu, she will not take this ward for the second time as ward councillor. If that means we must burn down more property we have all the time in the world to do so,” said Mbhele.

Zwane confirmed that the ward councillor’s house had been set alight. He urged the community not to burn property during protests.

“Burning or damaging property is against the law. The community must know that and protest accordingly,” said Zwane.

Numerous attempts to reach Ndlovu failed. Her phone rang and it was not answered.

TOPICS:  Government

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