Kokstad – Service delivery protests by the residents of Shayamoya in Kokstad brought businesses to a standstill on Wednesday.
They wanted KwaZulu-Natal government leaders to address them following their protest, community leader Jeffrey Ngenjane said.
“We have shut down the area because they (Kokstad municipality) are not serious. We have been asking for running water for years now and the municipality has done nothing for us,” he said.
On Tuesday, schools in the area were closed and several stores were looted.
On Monday morning, residents marched to the Kokstad municipal offices to hand over a memorandum. They demanded that Mayor Nosisa Jojozi and her deputy, Bheki Mtolo, step down.
“Our community will no longer tolerate their misconduct in the municipality offices,” residents said in the memorandum.
Residents barricaded roads with bricks and stones and set fire to a municipal building. Police fired teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds and arrested 49 people on public violence charges.
Ngenjene said hundreds of people were outside Kokstad Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday to demand the release of those arrested.
“We will continue the shutdown until our people are released and government comes to hear our complaints,” he told News24.
They wanted water and electricity in their RDP homes, action taken on unfulfilled promises, escalating corruption, and the illegitimate nomination of candidates for the August 3 local government elections.
Ngenjane blamed the violence and looting on criminals who took advantage of the protest.
“There are people taking advantage of our situation. These people are looting shops, but the community is not involved. Schools have closed because principals fear they will be torched. We don’t want that, but we cannot allow the area to return to normal until our demands are met,” he said.
Police and the municipality could not immediately be reached for comment.