The MEC for Community Safety, Security and Liaison, MEC Vusi Shongwe and the Provincial Commissioner of the South African Police Service in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Manamela strongly denounced violence that erupted during protest activities in Middelburg, Mhluzi and Hendrina last week. Two trucks as well as a bus and a minibus were reportedly torched in Middelburg and Mhluzi respectively during the violent protest. The security forces, which include the SAPS members and the traffic law enforcement officers remain on high alert and are continuing to monitor the situation. A total of 31 suspects have been arrested so far.
“We applaud the concerted effort of the police and traffic officers for the progress made in bringing suspects to book. We are yet again appealing to communities to protest within the ambit of the law. Destruction of public and private property must be condemned in the strongest terms possible because it sets government and business back in these tough economic times,” says Shongwe.
The Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Manamela not only condemned the acts of lawlessness displayed by those who engaged in public violence but personally visited the affected areas to warn perpetrators that if they commit crime, they will be brought to book. The Provincial Commissioner further appreciated the unity displayed by all security forces during the unrest.
Lieutenant General Manamela thanked the MEC for his continued support and commended the brave selfless acts by the force multipliers.
Reports also indicate that protesters blockaded several roads in Mhluzi, Middelburg and Hendrina with burning tyres and rubbles. On Thursday, 19 August 2021, a group of people tried to attack the Mhluzi Police Station, however members on the ground managed to contain the situation. The N11 Road was reportedly blocked at some stage and motorists could not use the road. There were also reports that some of these protesters were throwing stones at motorists that were travelling on some of the roads and streets around the said areas. The security forces continue to maintain their presence in the area and by Saturday, 21 August 2021 the situation was calm and the local municipality officials begun clearing up the streets.
The 31 suspects are facing charges of public violence and contravention of the Disaster Management Regulations and they are expected to appear before the Middelburg Magistrate’s Court today, Monday, 23 August 2021.