Hundreds of community members from the Dihlabeng area participated in a legal march on Monday (14/05) to demand that the executive mayor, speaker, municipal manager and the chief financial officer of the Dihlabeng Municipality, as well as the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) Bethlehem station commander be removed with immediate effect.
The concerned residents handed over a memorandum to the Dihlabeng Local Municipality in which they state that they want Sisi Ntombela, premier of the Free State, to intervene and address the continuing problems that keep piling within the municipality.
“The time has come for the Dihlabeng community to defend our hard-earned democracy and fight for our rights,” stated the memorandum.
“We are herby submitting this memorandum of demands due to the incompetent service delivery we have been receiving under the council and administration of the Dihlabeng Local Municipality, which is being led by the executive mayor, Lindiwe Makhalema and speaker David Lengoabala.
“We demand that the mayor, speaker, municipal manager and chief financial officer of the Dihlabeng Local Municipality be removed with immediate effect and that we be provided with the opportunity of competitive principled political leadership and a competent municipal manager and chief financial officer who will be able to prioritise the interests of the Dihlabeng community.”
“We demand the refurbishment of our streets, as the roads are dilapidated to a point where you cannot go around the township without seeing potholes.
A second concern of the residents is the dirty water, which they believe is a risk to their health.
“As the community, we have been receiving dirty water from our taps lately. Our water has never been in this state in the past 24 years. The situation is deteriorating, which might lead to waterborne diseases,” stated the memorandum.
It is also alleged that electricity was not installed at Vogelfontein and Extension 4. Residents from Extension 4 allegedly bought sites from the municipality without electricity infrastructure being completed.
According to Tshediso Maitse, spokesperson of the Dihlabeng Municipality, they will respond to the content of the memorandum and any other issue pertinent to service delivery in a press conference scheduled for Friday (18/05).
“The leadership of the municipality will continue to engage with the community in the normal constituency and stakeholder meetings,” said Maitse.
The protestors also handed over a memorandum to the SAPS in Bethlehem to demand the removal of the SAPS Bethlehem station commander, Nkai Molefe, who refused to open criminal cases regarding councillors who allegedly stole houses from rightful beneficiaries at Vogelfontein.
They also demand that the Bohlokong Satellite Station operates for 24 hours a day.
According to Capt. Zweli Mohobeleli, police spokesperson, the memorandum will be escalated to the Office of the Provincial Commissioner or the Office of the National Commissioner, who will decide on the course of action regarding the station commander.
“The satellite is currently operating 24 hours. We welcome the memorandum and promise to respond as soon as all consultations have been concluded. Members of the community must continue to hold us, their servants, accountable. This will help improve services to the people and rid our country of crime,” said Mohobeleli.
Police reinforcements policed the march, which was peaceful.
“We haven’t received any reports of violence during the protest.”
Three vehicles were damaged.
According to Mohobeleli, one male suspect has been arrested.
“It is not yet confirmed if the incident is related to the community march that ended peacefully at about 14:00. Members of the police dispersed the small crowd which was burning tyres on the R26.
“A search for suspects responsible for damaging vehicles has ensued,” said Mohobeleli.
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