Shops looted in Koster during service delivery protests


The View Point Guest House and the house of the mayor in Koster, North West, which were burnt downon Wednesday during service delivery protests.

KOSTER, North West - Foreign-owned shops were looted in Reagile, Koster on Wednesday night following a violent service delivery protest in the small North West town.

A group of people chanted at the local stadium where a meeting was earlier held and another group looted nearby shops.

Kgetlengrivier local municipality Mayor Kim Medupe&39;s properties, including her house and guesthouse business, were torched during the protest as residents went on a rampage, locking down the small farming town west of Rustenburg.

Schools and businesses were closed as the protesters blocked all entry to Koster with rocks, burning tyres and logs.

They demanded basic municipal services.

But Medupe said the protest was not about service delivery.

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She said protesters invaded land as an attack on her and the municipality, adding that there was an invasion in Reagile three weeks ago.

"The one meeting that provoked people this much was convened by a municipal official with about 30 women. The official incited people with his high pay and lifestyle. There was nothing about service delivery that was said there," she said.

"After the land invasion, we did internal processes to make people aware of the land issue. Our community listened to us. We held community meetings with them through councillors. The same leaders started inciting people to remain on the invaded land," she said.

"Days ago there was a meeting encouraging people to fight the municipality on the land issue. They used land as an instrument to fight the municipality. The situation went further to Swartruggens where officials there incited young people to revolt against the municipality."

READ: Service delivery struggles linked to post-apartheid failures

Community leader Israel Matsile said residents were not happy with service delivery.

"This protest is against very poor service delivery. We have been sidelined for far too long. When we speak the municipality does not hear us. When we ask for meetings with people from infrastructure they tell us they have their own meetings to attend," he said.

"We don&39;t have roads, our educated young people don&39;t have jobs ... We want services and where do we ask for services if our municipality that is supposed to serve us refuses? We are humans too. We cannot and we won&39;t stop because we are also people and have needs."

Police used rubber bullets to disperse the protesters.

Sergeant Ofentse Mokgadi of the North West police said three buildings belonging to the mayor were torched as well as six cars.  No arrests were made.

Police have been deployed to monitor the situation.

The Kgetlengrivier municipality comprises the small towns of Derby, Koster and Swartruggens.

Municipal manager Joseph Mogale said it had noted, with serious concern, the protests and burning of the property in Koster.

"The municipality strongly condemns the burning of property and calls on the aggrieved parties to express their grievances through peaceful engagement and negotiations," he said in a statement.

The municipality was open and available to engage the community about their dissatisfaction in order for service delivery to get back to normal.



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