By Masilo Malakwane
TSHIAME – A service delivery protest by Tshiame and Makholokoeng residents turned ugly on Monday last week, when a Bangladesh supermarket was looted in broad daylight, prompting police to use rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
The protesters had barricaded the municipality building and the N5 road with stones and burning tyres.
The police confirmed that 15 protesters were arrested and were expected to appear in the Harrismith Magistrate’s Court soon.
Police spokesperson in Thabo Mofutsanyana district Warrant Officer Mmako Mophiring, said the suspects will be charged for public violence.
The protest started at noon on Monday and continued for a better part of the afternoon.
Residents were demanding that the Maluti-a-Phofung local municipality delivered on its promise to restore power supply to their area after lighting struck and disabled the Greenlands substation a fortnight ago.
Saddam Hussein, who operates the looted Ngantweni Supermarket, said he got the call from his employee on Monday while he was in Kestell, asking him to quickly get to the supermarket as residents were up in arms forcing their way into the supermarket.
“I came as soon as I could but because of the blocked roads I got here too late.” He said they have been in the area for just more than a year and had lost everything.
Ntombeko Nyolo, is a shopkeeper who stays in the supermarket back room. He said he was alone doing laundry when the looters came in.
“I heard them breaking the doors. When I realised they were inside I remained at the back fearing for my safety. The store was ransacked and looted.”
Ward 1 Committee member Mfanafuthi Maduna said: “We understand the residents are angry with lack of service delivery and the municipality which has been making a lot of empty promises. However, we do not condone the looting of. Condone. This guy has been helping many families here whenever there’s a need for social responsibility. It’s very disappointing,” said Maduna.
Meanwhile, the municipality’s electrical manager Earl Jordan, reported that the service provider appointed on site anticipated that power would have been switched back on last Thursday.