Day of local and national protests erupt in fire and looting

By ATHENA O’REILLY, ZINGISA MVUMVU, LULAMILE FENI and SINO MAJANGAZA

In a day of national upheaval Breidbach residents blocked the N2 between East London and King William’s Town while Cosatu marched in demand of President Jacob Zuma’s head.

And on Tuesday night University of Fort Hare students went on a rampage, looting and damaging the university’s property. Last night they damaged the staff centre.

As a result of the violent protest, academic activities were disrupted.

Earlier yesterday, about 200 Breidbach residents burnt tyres on the N2 and pelted cars with stones – forcing police and Buffalo City Metro law enforcement to fire rubber bullets and use tear gas to disperse them.

Two people were arrested for public violence and malicious damage to property.

Ward 44 councillor, Sixolisiwe Ntsasela told the Daily Dispatch that when she contacted Breidbach Home Seekers Committee (BHSC) members she was told they were protesting in solidarity with the nationwide Cosatu strike against state capture and corruption.

In East London, SACP second deputy general-secretary Chris Matlhako said the only way to end state capture was for its beneficiaries to be locked in jail.

“We are resolute that the ANC must recall president Jacob Zuma urgently and [SA Revenue Services commissioner] Tom Moyane must be fired from SARS for their continued ‘Guptarisation’ of our country,” said Matlhako.

“We have parasites drinking our blood. Taxpayers’ money is misused and they are looting our state. They must be jailed.”

Cosatu CEC member Mike Shingange admitted that the labour federation was to blame for elevating Zuma to power, saying their current stance calling for his head was an attempt to correct the mistake.

The marchers handed over a the memorandum to officials representing the office of the premier Phumulo Masualle and that of provincial Police commissioner, head Lieutenant-Colonel Lizeka Ntshinga, at the City Hall.

In the Mthatha march, Cosatu provincial treasurer, Nomonde Mtembu, stressed the federation’s stance that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa should succeed Zuma in December.

“It has been the tradition of the ANC that the deputy president be the next president.”

Meanwhile, UFH students complained of a lack of water in some of the residences, wi-fi problems, loan agreement forms which have not been given to students and fee waivers, among other grievances.

SRC president, Mosuli Cwele said after they could not agree with management on how to address their grievances, students decided to protest on Tuesday.

Students mobilised each other, resulting in thousands of them gathering at the main entrance, preventing vehicles from going in and out of the university.

This was after they chased more than six security guards away.

They then moved outside the premises, blocking the road outside campus and looted a delivery truck and delivery van.

A truck carrying milk was emptied while a bakkie that had chips and sausages was looted.

Two hours later armed police descended to the campus to maintain order.

They used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the students.

In a statement yesterday, university vice-chancellor Sakhela Buhlungu instructed staff to vacate premises as the academic programme was suspended.

Buhlungu said the management had been in discussions with the student representative council over a number of issues.

“As management we are convinced a considerable number of these issues are being addressed.

“It is therefore shocking to learn of the strike that happened last night [Tuesday],” he said.

Buhlungu condemned what he termed “criminal behaviour” by a small group.

“The criminal conduct of some protesters has forced the university to upscale security to protect staff, students and university property,” he said. — oreillya@tisoblackstar.co.za / zingisam@dispatch.co.za /lulamilef@dispatch.co.za /sinom@dispatch.co.za

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