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Tembisa Shutdown: Why? And What Is The Situation Right Now

The Tembisa Shutdown is the topic on everyone’s lips all over Mzansi. Since Sunday night, residents have been protesting, completely blocking off Hospital Road. Protesters also put up blockades on several roads around the community. They shut the entire community down with burning tires and rocks. The residents are reportedly protesting what they have described as deafening silence on their pleas for assistance with service delivery challenges.

Municipal vehicles, offices, and more have also been torched in the violent protests. There have been reports of looting happening too. Police have tried to contain the demonstrations, but it seems out of control. Protesters say they won’t stop until Ekurhuleni Mayor Tania Campbell comes to the area. In a statement to the news outlet, The Citizen, Andile Mangwa shared that the residents want service delivery expedited in the area. He said,

“They are complaining about water, rates, the rent, and the bond. Our gogos have been paying bond, and even now – we are still paying, and there is no change, and every year it becomes higher.”

Ekurhuleni Mayor Tania Campbell called for calm to be restored to the community in a shared statement. She said, “Citizens have the constitutional right to protest. However, such acts of arson and vandalism to public infrastructure will not be tolerated. Last week, I delegated five Members of the Mayoral Committee to engage residents on the memorandum they submitted to The City. However, that meeting unfortunately collapsed and failed to reach any resolutions.”

The Citizen reports that Campbell shared that she will be contacting the Premier of the Gauteng Province “through the intergovernmental relations channels to develop a coordinated approach to the impasse by government.” She has also urged residents of Tembisa to remain safe and have faith in law enforcement to restore order and calm to the community.

There are reports that four people have been confirmed dead in the protests. The first two were wounded in a crossfire between officers and demonstrators. Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department (EMPD) warned the public and motorists to steer clear of the area. They shared that the situation was volatile. The first dead protestor was confirmed by EMPD spokesperson Kelebogile Thepe. He said,

“We are really stunned by what is happening, it looks like we are in a difficult position with all the protesters coming from all corners, and we are trying to calm the situation down,”

The EMPD confirmed the other two Monday, August 1. Newzroom Afrika reported that the bodies were found near Customer Care Center where the municipal was set on fire. The cause of death has not been revealed. Premier David Makhura condemned the acts of violence demonstrated by the people saying,

“We acknowledge that residents have the democratic right to express their grievances. However, communities must express their grievances in a and constructive manner. The violent and destructive nature of these protests is unacceptable. We would like to send our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of the deceased, our thoughts are with them.”

The EFF, in a shared statement, called on “trigger-happy police” to practice restraint in their interaction with protestors. “There must be no further loss of life in Tembisa, and the police must be careful to not turn a service delivery protest into a massacre.”

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