15 January 2014

South Africa: Ministers, Malema Descend on Mothutlung

Photo: Werner Beukes/SAPA
Service delivery protest (file photo).

Brits — Several government ministers and EFF leader Julius Malema descended on Mothutlung near Brits on Tuesday with promises of help after two men were shot dead during a protest to demand running water.

Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said residents of the North West township would have running water before the weekend. The area had been supplied by water tankers for the past three months after pumps broke down.

"Water will be back by Friday," she told residents. She was there with Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa after visiting the families of two men killed during violent protests in the area on Monday.

Beeld newspaper named the two as mineworker Osia Rahube and a photographer known only as Bra Mike. Police allegedly shot the two while they were en route to the Madibeng municipality with other residents to demand water.

Molewa said three local water pumps in the area broke down, which she said was a "very strange problem". According to Molewa, under normal circumstances, when one of the pumps failed the remaining two were supposed to keep operating.

The same problem had been seen in three other areas. She promised to investigate and punish anyone found to be at fault.

"We will not rest until we find out what happened."

Residents told Molewa of alleged corruption in the appointment of the contractor to supply water tanks. She promised to assign Magalies Water to deliver water.

Mthethwa told residents his office would investigate the shooting. He said their interaction with families and eyewitnesses had shed some light on the incident.

He urged others with information to help the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) with its investigations.

"If people don't co-operate and give this information to Ipid, we won't know what happened." Mthethwa added that residents should speak to police about the alleged corruption.

Earlier in the day Boitshoko Mogale, who is Osia Rahube's niece, told Sapa the family was hurting and felt let down.

"It's an injustice because even now no one has come to explain what happened so that we can get a better understanding," she said.

A community leader known only as Chris addressed residents after the ministers and expressed his frustration over what happened. Residents had been patient and peaceful, despite not having had water for three months.

"We tolerated it for three months, but on the day we said no more."

They were singing and joking while walking when the attack started, he said.

"This thing happened without warning. Not even a single stone was thrown," he said.

He said officers fired teargas at them but when they tried to explain that they were not violent, one person was shot on the leg.

"We took him into a car and a police officer shot him in the chest at close range," he claimed.

Chris urged residents to co-operate with officials to ensure justice was served.

Speaking to residents earlier, Economic Freedom Fighters' leader Julius Malema promised to lend residents his support.

"We must arrange a proper march to Madibeng municipality and I will be there," he told locals at a sports field.

He said it was the community's right to have water and he blamed the situation on poor administration.

"While the water was still under Magalies, there were no such problems," he said.

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