NELSPRUIT: 13 February 2021 – The police management in Mpumalanga has strongly condemned acts of lawlessness displayed by some community members during a protest at Badplaas near Barberton in which six police vehicles, one Traffic Department as well as another vehicle belonging to the Provincial Government were damaged. Whilst police were busy controlling the situation, a woman unfortunately became a victim in this whole protest drama after a truck smashed eight stationary vehicles resulting in her being fatally wounded. Two police officers also sustained minor injuries after they were attacked during the protest. This despicable incident occurred yesterday, Friday 12 February 2021.
According to the reports, protestors started in the early hours of the day demanding to forcefully engage with a certain mining company in the area. When their demands were not successful, they then blockaded the roads using rubble including tyres, trees and scraps. Police received information about this outrageous activities and whilst trying to calm the situation, protestors pelted stones at them, injuring the two members who were later treated for minor injuries. They (police) continued to subdue the situation and they also informed motorists using the Badplaas road to use alternative routes for fear of their lives as well as safety of their vehicles. However some motorists decided to wait for the situation to clear up. In the midst of the situation, a certain truck approached the scene during the heat of the protest and police signalled its driver to stop as a result of the situation underway. To their dismay, the driver reportedly proceeded to drive and unfortunately crashed on eight vehicles. During the accident, a woman was seriously injured to a point where she succumbed to her injuries.
Police opened a case of public violence and added charges of malicious damage to properties due to the damaged cars. They also opened a culpable homicide case against the truck driver with an additional charge of reckless and negligent driving. The said driver, who is a Mozambican National, was immediately arrested and is expected to appear before court soon. Police and other law enforcement agencies are continuing monitoring the situation with a view to restore order. In the meantime, police have called the community to respect the rule of law and stop their rampageous behaviour. Furthermore, a call is made to the public to take note of the seriousness of committing crime under the misperception that they can easily evade arrest. This popular belief should be treated as a myth as police will relentlessly search for all those who were involved and bring them to book. Police indicated that no amount of grievance can afford an opportunity to any person to commit crime as these community members did under the guise that they needed an attention from the mine. The public is also drawn to the fact that the country is on Alert Level 3 in terms of the Disaster Management Regulations and their behaviour, was contrary to the ethos contemplated on this level.
The Provincial Commissioner of the South African Police Service in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma, has sent a stern warning to the public and said that those who are amused by the desire to make names for themselves in a manner which is against the ambits of the law, should be aware of the grave repercussions of a brief fame, which will be followed by a long term incarceration.