Harrismith protest turns violent with looting, stone throwing and arson

25 May 2021 - 16:47 By alex patrick
Police are monitoring the situation in and around the Maluti-a-Phofung and Phumelela municipalities after violent service delivery protests. File photo.
Police are monitoring the situation in and around the Maluti-a-Phofung and Phumelela municipalities after violent service delivery protests. File photo.
Image: Gareth Wilson

Protests about poor service delivery in Harrismith turned violent on Monday and continued overnight and into Tuesday.

Free State police spokesperson Brig Motantsi Makhele said the situation in and around the Maluti-a-Phofung and Phumelela municipalities was being monitored.

Residents were protesting over a lack of electricity and water and alleged corruption and maladministration. 

Sporadic incidents on Monday saw streets barricaded with burning tyres in the morning. In the evening national roads were targeted and two tuck shops were looted in Makong village in QwaQwa.

About 15 people were arrested at Intabazwe township in Harrismith. The township boarders the Harrismith airfield, where it was reported a petrol bomb was thrown into a hangar.

Makhele said no case had been opened by the airfield. He said at 9pm on Monday a person informed the owner of an aeroplane that there was fire.

Local health and safety training facility Harrismith First Aid Training and Fire said there was a fire at the airport but they were not sure of the origin.

On Tuesday afternoon the previously obstructed N3 and N5 roads were open.

“We are appealing to road users to exercise caution as the situation can change unexpectedly,” said Makhele.

“Khalanyoni near Harrismith and the Tseseng road in QwaQwa are barricaded with stones and burning tyres.

“Memel is experiencing a peaceful march about service delivery. No incidents were reported since [Tuesday] morning. Police are deployed around these affected areas to manage violent conduct.”

Calls to the airport and the municipality went unanswered.

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