On Monday, 3 February, the SAPS received a notice that of another Paulpietersburg strike. Another protest would take place in eDumbe on Tuesday, 4 February and this time it would be bigger and more violent than before.
Read about the previous protest here.
On Tuesday, 4 February, protestors gathered in Paulpietersburg from as early as 01:00. They started barricading roads with all kinds of objects in preparation for another strike. They also started setting tyres ablaze. After the vandalizing of traffic signs and the entrance to the Municipal offices along with a Park-home mobile office located on the premises, a lot of post-chaos damage could be seen. It is strongly advised by the SAPS, AfriForum and involved Traffic Departments to avoid travelling through Paulpietersburg at all costs, Most roads were filled with protestors.
Local businesses threatened
Businesses remained closed as they were threatened by protestors that they would be burnt down should they decide to trade. At 12:30 it was confirmed that the R33 was finally open even though the road was still filled with debris. It is still unclear who will clean the roads seeing as the eDumbe Municipality is not functioning at this stage. Please be vigilant when using this road.
Offices were also damaged during the Paulpietersburg strike and according to reports a member of the SAPS was injured when an object was thrown at him and hit him in the face. Most of the protestors were dispersed by the POPS (Public Order Police Service) at 11:00. However, the situation remained tense as there were some unconfirmed reports regarding the return of the protestors at a later stage.
After a whole day of dealing with protestors, the night seemed even bleaker as some of the people continued. On Wednesday, 5 February the protest went on to continue adding to the state of chaos that Paulpietersburg was already in. There were trolleys set alight next to the Puma Garage. This could easily have caused a big explosion, in the case of a fuel leak being present. Protestors covered the streets in town with litter.
There were over 100 protestors from the Paulpietersburg strike were arrested. So much so, that not all of them could be accommodated in Paulpietersburg. Some had to be taken to Vryheid. The SAPS and POPS seemed more active during Wednesday’s protest, seeing as people were being stopped from joining the masses. Some protestors used the veld to sneak in and assist the protestors with their destruction, since the roads from Mbanyoni and other townships were blocked.
The R33 near the eDumbe Township along with the Lünenburg road, Piensrand road and the four-way stop, main road leading in and out of Paulpieterburg and streets in town were all danger zones. Protestors proceeded to throw stones at any passing vehicles and the complete scene of chaos was enough reason to change your route.
Many businesses were negatively influenced by this protest, since truck drivers could not enter or leave Paulpietersburg. As stated in the previous article, these protestors are demanding better service delivery from eDumbe Local Municipality, as well as more local job opportunities and the resignation of the local Ward 3 councillor.
We hope that their grievances will be dealt with without delay. Violence is never the answer!