EXECUTIVE Mayor Parks Tau will meet senior officials of the South African Police Service(SAPS) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) today to discuss what needs to be done about the violent protests that have been taking place in Soweto.
“The City of Johannesburg has condemned acts of violence and vandalism by protestors in Chiawelo, Soweto,” says spokesperson for the City, Nthatisi Modingoane. “What is of concern is that these protests are taking place amidst ongoing efforts by government to improve the lives of the people in that area.”
Vandals sabotaged electricity substations, set alight a councillor’s house, torched a car and damaged the house belonging to a former councillor in protest on 5 July. Tau has reacted to these actions, and yesterday met Eskom officials to discuss the issue.
Eskom worked through the night to fix damaged equipment and to restore power where possible. The damage was extensive and it may take some time to be repaired, though. Technical teams from Eskom will be accompanied by the SAPS and Johannesburg metropolitan police department (JMPD) on their trips to Chiawelo to try to normalise power supply.
On the heels of this, Tau will also be meeting the SAPS and NPA. He has called on the police to “take swift and decisive action against individuals who are vandalising electricity infrastructure and engaging in mob violence”.
“Destruction of public property is an act of sabotage,” he says. “We have to take these acts of vandalism more seriously. They are destroying public property and robbing people of their quality of life.”
These violent protests and vandalism are condemned by the City as residents in the area are regularly informed of plans to improve service delivery, according to Modingoane. “The City does encourage open consultation with the residents when implementing capital projects and residents are urged to utilise this process to raise their concerns.”
In addition, Siyasizana is the extended social package that has been implemented by the City to help those who earn less than R3 366 per month access benefits such as electricity.
“Going on a rampage, damaging property and endangering the lives of other people cannot be encouraged or tolerated in this democratic state we all fought for,” Modingoane says. “While communities have a right to engage in protest to express their dissatisfaction, this has to be done in a lawful manner without infringing on other people’s rights.
“Those who engage in criminal activity will be dealt with according to the law,” he says.
The community has been called on to assist the SAPS and JMPD in any way they can by reporting acts of vandalism, illegal connections and cable theft. “Working together we can stop these saboteurs in their tracks and ensure that residents receive the quality of services they deserve,” Tau says.