09 December 2018


Mahikeng residents frown upon violent protestersĀ 

by: Kagiso Metswamere   date: 26 April 2018

Communities around Mahikeng started speaking out against the use of violent protests by some to raise political and service delivery unhappiness, saying this does not only take the capital city of Bokone Bophirima backwards, but also threatens people’s lives.
Residents that Semphete has spoken to have condemned  the violence that was a prominent feature in protests that broke out on Wednesday last week in Mahikeng, latyer spreading to some smaller towns of the province.  Most of them believe that genuine concerns can be raised without burning and destroying public and private properties.
Kegomoditswe Noko of Unit 14 in Mmabatho expressed disappointment with the violent protests.
“It was so scary and hurting last week during the pick of the strike to see Mmabana Arts and Culture buildings burning, simply because we are unhappy about certain things. I think we must rethink our approach because it is so wrong. It is possible to protest without destroying things,” she said during her visit to the burnt Mmabana building to see for herself.
Noko - who is an unemployed North West University graduate - said alternative means of raising concerns can be used instead of burning public properties. Some of these buildings are of sentimental value to the people Mahikeng and Bokone Bophirima at large, she said.
“I grew up in this area, falling in love with Mmabana for its arts and cultural activities and it is so sad and disappointing to see parts of it burnt so badly. I wanted my son to take part in the arts and culture activities here, now we have to resort to other places such as Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth for now,” she said, adding that this is another costly exercise for the provincial government that needs to find funds they never budgeted for, on top on service delivery challenges in the province. 
Since last week, a large number of protesters blocked all internal roads and main ones leading into Mahikeng with burning tyres, stones and road signs to express their anger.
The situation is calm this week following collective intervention by the country’s leadership under President Cyril Ramaphosa who had to cut his trip shot from London to come in Mahikeng.
The violent protests take place as South Africa is commemortating the Year of Nelson Mandela, the country’s first democratically elected President, who would be turning 100 on 18 July if he was still alive. 
The late former President was one of the leaders at the forefront of fighting for the freedom we are enjoying today. 
Another resident, George Morwe from Magogoe Koikoi, said Mandela would have liked to see the communities handling things differently, using dialogue instead of violence. 
“The generation of Nelson Mandela fought for political freedom using violence on some occasions to get the attention of the apartheid government because there was no democracy at that time, but with us it is different. I think our former struggle icon would have liked to see us progressively using dialogue to resolve community challenges instead of violent protests they used against apartheid government to obtain freedom we are enjoying today,” he said.
Provincial government spokesperson, Brian Setswambung, has condemned the destruction of private and public property during protests, saying there are other means to engage government when communities are unhappy with services.
“We are once again appealing to members of the public to refrain from using any form of violence and harassment to raise issues relating to government services. We encourage our people to participate in programmes such as Roma Nna Setsokotsane 10 by 10 campaigns, a 10-day service delivery programme initiated by the fifth administration that is meant to speed up government services to the people,” he said.
The provincial government regretted the loss of life and sent condolences to the families of two known victims of the protests. Setswambung also said government was saddened by the looting of foreign owned shops, an act that has left many of these asylum seekers homeless with nothing in their name, except for the clothes they were wearing when they were violently removed from their shops. 
Setswambung also encouraged communities to make use of the 24-hour Roma Nna Setsokotsane toll free number: 0800 111 700 to raise any service delivery challenges in the province.