Three people have been arrested in Pomeroy following anarchy as a result of service delivery protests in the area, KwaZulu-Natal transport, community safety and liaison MEC Bheki Ntuli said on Wednesday.
Ntuli has also tasked law enforcement agencies to step up their efforts and ensure that law and order prevails in the area.
Police have arrested three suspects for public violence. They will appear in the Dundee magistrate’s court on Friday.
This follows a protest on Tuesday, where residents blocked the R33 and began to dig up the road. They said they were tired of raising the same concerns with the Msinga local municipality and the Umzimyathi district municipality for nearly four years.
The community of Pomeroy claim that they have been submitting memorandums to the government and embarking on protests over the provision of water and electricity – but to no avail.
Ntuli condemned the destruction of infrastructure and malicious damage to property after members of the community blocked the R33 and dug up the road in protest.
Ntuli had tasked police to act swiftly and arrest suspects behind this act of criminality.
“We have directed police to act swiftly and arrest all those that have vandalised state infrastructure because we will not allow protesters to run amok and dig up our public roads as this will result in road accidents and fatalities,” Ntuli said.
He said his department has not budgeted for repairing the R33 as all funds have been set aside to build new roads and maintain their ageing road network.
“While community members have the freedom to exercise their constitutional rights to protest, they should do so within the confines of the law and without endangering the lives of law-abiding citizens,” the MEC said.
Heavy police presence including public order police and local police has been deployed to monitor the situation in the affected areas.
The mayor of uMzinyathi district municipality, Petros Ngubane, urged residents who took to the street to protest against service delivery issues to remain calm as all of the issues were being addressed.
Ngubane said the municipality together with the local municipality and provincial government were currently engaging on the matter and working around the clock to find an amicable solution that would fast-track the delivery of services to the people of uMsinga.
“Once all plans are in place, we will give feedback to the community before the end of this month. At this juncture we appeal for calm and patience from our citizens. The vandalism of infrastructure will not assist the situation, but will only reverse efforts already made to bring development to our citizens,” Ngubane said.
A member of the community who took part in the infrastructure destruction, who spoke to TimesLIVE on condition of anonymity, said they share water with animals.
“We get water from the river and women have to go very early before the animals. It is not safe as there is a forest between the village and the river. During lockdown our children couldn’t get lessons via phones, laptops or television because we don’t have electricity,” they said.