19 June 2017

South Africa: Angry Maritzburg Residents Threaten to Disrupt Mandela Marathon

Residents of Imbali in Pietermaritzburg have vowed to disrupt the start of this year's Mandela Marathon if their demands to drop the price of electricity are not addressed.

Thousands of workers from Imbali and Edendale reported late for work, and some opted not to go to work, after local residents blockaded the main roads to town.

The gathering began in the early hours of Monday morning, with protesters gathering all kinds of material for the blockade.

Their main concern is the high price of electricity, which they said is affecting their livelihood.

"When I buy electricity for R100, I actually get R60 worth of electricity, without any explanation," said one angry resident.

Teargas and rubber bullets

The protesters said they had raised the matter with local councillor Dumisani Phungula, but that this had not yielded any results.

"We knew from yesterday [Sunday] that this was the next course of action and started mobilising this morning," said another protester.

Police fired teargas and rubber bullets as they attempted disband the protesters who formed different groups in key points, burning objects as part of their action.

They kept a close watch over the municipal office, which protesters were threatening to burn down. A security guard at the building managed to get out unharmed.

Taxi drivers admitted that the protest had affected their operations, as they had to use alternative routes in order to get to the city.

"Monday mornings are the busiest period and this had a huge impact on our operations. Their concerns are legit and that is why the powers that be should attend to the matter now," said one Imbali taxi driver.

The residents vowed to continue with the protest until Msunduzi Mayor Themba Njilo attended to their demand, as they had given up on the local councillor.

"We are not going anywhere and if the mayor does not address the matter, then there will be no Mandela Marathon in our backyard. We are fed up," said one resident.

The marathon which is organised by provincial government takes place on the last Sunday of August.

Monday's protest in Imbali comes two weeks after residents of Sobantu complained about the high electricity, a matter that was swiftly addressed.

Source: News24

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