South Africa: Provincial Commissioner Condemns Violent Protests in Letsopa

press release

The North West Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Baile Motswenyane condemned in the strongest possible terms violent protests that have been taking place since Wednesday, 10 July 2019 in Letsopa near Ottosdal.

It is alleged that services were interrupted in town after members of the community barricaded roads with burning tyres and various other objects in the early hours of Wednesday, 10 July 2019. The protest also affected schooling and workers could not go to work. This illegal action also led to closure of businesses while traffic flow on the R507 and R503 roads was affected due to sporadic stone throwing incidents.

Furthermore, the violent protests led to the torching of Municipal offices, two trucks and a tractor while one police vehicle was damaged after it was pelted with stones when protesters tried to attack the Magistrates' Court. Following these incidents, nine suspects were arrested for public violence and arson. They made a brief appearance before the Ottosdal Periodical Court yesterday and were remanded in custody until Tuesday, 16 July 2019.

On Thursday, 11 July 2019, protesters continued with violent demonstrations and in the process burnt the Letsopa Community Library and damaged a police armoured vehicle known as Nyala after it was thrown with a petrol bomb. Consequently, five more suspects were arrested. They are expected to appear before the Coligny Magistrate's Court on Monday, 15 July 2019, facing charges of public violence and arson.

The Provincial Commissioner expressed her disapproval of the violent protests, destruction of property and interruption of services and learning. Furthermore, she made it clear that criminality cannot be condoned and that the police will continue to deal effectively with those who perpetrate crime. She also encouraged concerned parties and individuals to find amicable solutions to their concerns that will see calmness returning to Ottosdal.

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