Umzinyathi Mayor Petros Mthandeni Ngubane has condemned the damaging of roads during a protest over service delivery in eBhovini, between Pomeroy and Dundee on Tuesday.
Residents who had been complaining about the lack of water and electricity in the community, blocked the R33 with stones, and dug up the road.
“It’s not the mayor’s fault that there is no electricity in the area,” Ngubane said in response to the protest.
“It is Eskom’s fault.”
Ngubane told News24 that the protesters had requested to see him and other leaders, including Msinga Mayor Busiswa Ngqobo, and that they went to assess the situation.
He said most of the communities in the Umzinyathi area were in the deep rural parts and it was therefore hard for the municipality to deliver services as quickly as residents expected them to, and since the roads had been damaged, it would be even harder.
“I’m glad that Eskom has upgraded the power plant,” he said.
“We expect that by next week or the following week that more areas will have access to electricity.”
Ngubane said even though the municipality had issues, they’re aware that there were individuals politicising this matter because of the upcoming elections.
“We know them because there has been footage that has been doing the rounds,” said Ngubane.
In some pictures that surfaced on social media, the residents were seen digging up the road. Speaking about the water issue, Ngubane said they were planning to finalize the issue before the end of the financial year. He said they notified the South African Police Services (SAPS) about the “criminal activities”.
“We are going to lay charges because people are allowed to protest, but now, they are infringing [on] other people’s right[s],” added Ngubane.
KwaZulu-Natal transport MEC Bheki Ntuli tasked police to arrest the suspects behind the “criminal activities”.
According to a statement by the MEC, police arrested three suspects for public violence.
They will be appearing in the Dundee Magistrate’s court on Friday.
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