Earthmoving machinery worth millions of rands, owned by a contractor appointed to install underground water and sewerage pipes for residents of a new residential suburb in Mthatha, were torched by an angry mob at the weekend.
King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality spokesman Sonwabo Mampoza confirmed that two excavators, two other machines and two large shipping containers belonging to Alan and J Plant Hire were damaged after they were set alight, allegedly by residents of the Maxwhele residential settlement near Zimbane Valley.
The incident reportedly happened on Saturday morning at a site set up by the company in Maxwhele. “We estimate the damage to be around R6.5-million,” said Mampoza yesterday. “The allegation is that the equipment was torched by residents who do not want the company there.”
Mampoza, however, was unable to immediately say how much had been allocated by city bosses for the work done by the company.
He said they had reported the matter to the police.
When the Daily Dispatch visited Maxwhele on Saturday, the owner of the company, identified only as Brian, declined to comment and referred questions to municipal bosses.
“We strongly condemn these acts because they are delaying the very same development that is supposed to benefit the same people. The mayor’s [Dumani Zozo] door is always open and people with grievances can come in any time,” Mampoza said.
Attempts to get comment from the police proved unsuccessful at the time of writing yesterday.
But provincial cooperative governance and traditional affairs spokesman, Mamnkeli Ngam also criticised the incident, while calling for municipal bosses and residents to sit down and sort out the impasse.
“It’s quite disappointing that when government is trying to create a better life for them there would be people who resort to violence. Whatever the root cause, as the department we don’t encourage war. People should sit around the table and sort out their problems.” — firstname.lastname@example.org