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Grieving mother seeks answers after son shot during Thembisa protest

Some areas without power due to substation being set alight on Monday

02 August 2022 - 15:23
A government building was torched by Thembisa protesters on Monday. The death toll from protests in the area has reached four.
A government building was torched by Thembisa protesters on Monday. The death toll from protests in the area has reached four.
Image: Crime Air Network via Twitter

Pheta Molonyama, 43, left for work on Monday morning in Thembisa and was only about four houses from his home when he was fatally shot, allegedly by an Ekurhuleni metro police official during the protest action that flared up.

This is according to his mother, Johana Molonyama, who wants answers about her son’s death.

Pheta is among the four people who lost their lives during Monday’s violent protest in Hospital View amid complaints of poor service delivery and high electricity tariffs.

She said her son was a welder and usually left home early in the morning to go to work.

A neighbour alerted her that he had been shot.

“A neighbour came to my house and called me, and when I went there I found his body lying on the ground,” she said.

“I went there and spoke to the police officer that shot him. I asked him, did he shoot my son, and he said yes.

“I asked why and he closed the window,” she alleged.

Thembisa community forum chairperson Zamani Sithole said the situation was calm on Tuesday. “It is actually quiet. There are a few situations here and there, but it is calming down,” he said.

Ekurhuleni mayor Tania Campbell was expected to address residents on Friday, he said.

She also held a meeting with the community forum on Monday afternoon.

Sithole said residents took to the streets on Monday after a meeting last week to discuss their complaints ended without resolution. They were frustrated that the mayor did not attend in person and instead sent a delegation to the meeting.

“It led to raised emotions and the situation that unfolded,” he said.

The electricity tariff complaint, he said, related to their area paying more than others within the metro. “We get less for the same amount of money because we don’t buy directly from Eskom, we buy from the municipality.”

He said residents had been complaining about this for years.

“It is one of those situations where it has been growing for many years, but because of the socioeconomic challenges it is not just electricity that is increasing, it is also unemployment and the cost of living. It is all these factors put together that led to a protest.”

Ekurhuleni metro spokesperson Zweli Dlamini confirmed the mayor would meet residents on Friday.

Gauteng MEC for human settlements, urban planning and co-operative governance Lebogang Maile extended the provincial government’s condolences to the families of the four protesters.

“On behalf of the provincial government and people of Gauteng, we extend our deepest condolences to the affected families. We share their pain and grief. We condemn the use of excessive force to quell protest action, a right enshrined in our constitution,” he said.

Gauteng premier David Makhura acknowledged that residents have the democratic right to express their grievances but said: “Communities must express their grievances in a responsible and constructive manner.”

Meanwhile, parts of Thembisa are now without power due to a substation that was set alight during Monday’s protest.

Areas affected are parts of Thembisa 1, Clayville, Olifantsfontein, Winnie Mandela and Birch Acres extensions 23 to 35. 

The metro said its teams would attend to the outage “as soon as the situation on the ground becomes stable and the safety of the workers can be guaranteed”.

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