The South African Police Service (SAPS) have arrested fifteen people in connection with multiple fires started on or near the Isithebe industrial estate in Mandeni, KZN.
The fires are believed to have been set by a group of protesters who have taken issue with the municipality whom they accuse of nepotism and the squandering of public funds.
A letter entitled “Shutdown Mandeni” was circulated among residents earlier this week, calling for protest action and claiming: “”No person shall live a good life with our money while we remain poor.”
Additional police officers have been deployed to the area.
KZN Economic development MEC Sihle Zikalala has condemned the protest action which has targeted an industrial estate that has no obvious link to the municipality. Zikalala
Zikalala said: “Since Monday factories in the industrial estate, owned by Ithala Development Finance Corporation, have been torched by people disgruntled with the local municipality. We understand that people have issues they are concerned about. However, those issues don’t necessarily have a direct bearing on what is taking place in the industrial estate.”
The MEC said it wasn’t possible to immediately calculate the cost of the protest action, which has seen numerous roads closed and damage to public and private property.
“The burning of trucks on the N3 disrupts the movement of goods between Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal and this has an adverse impact on the economy and jobs. Although we have not been able to measure the impact of the road closures on the provincial economy, it must be noted that the disruption on the N3 causes logistical challenges for KwaZulu-Natal and the entire country,” Zikalala said.
The municipality say that the protesters have not attempt to engage them in dialogue but the understanding is that the intend to force a resignation from the mayor.
On Tuesday Municipal manager Sizwe Khuzwayo told TimesLIVE: “We have not been informed by community members that they are dissatisfied with the municipality and no one has filed an application to hold a march to hand over a memorandum or letter to the municipality.”
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