Scuffle breaks out at holiday town protest

ANGRY PROTEST: Frustrated residents demand urgent action on infrastructure and maintenance
ANGRY PROTEST: Frustrated residents demand urgent action on infrastructure and maintenance

What started as a peaceful service delivery protest in Jeffreys Bay yesterday (06/02/2015) turned ugly when a scuffle between municipal officials and protesters broke out.

A woman holding a banner behind Kouga mayor Booi Koerat, while he was addressing the crowed, was allegedly manhandled by municipal manager Sydney Fadi.

About 600 Kouga residents showed up in Da Gama Street in the morning to participate in what was dubbed a “march for 100 reasons”.

Residents marched to the Kouga municipal building to hand over a petition to Koerat in an attempt to force the municipality to address various service delivery issues, including infrastructure maintenance.

The action was sparked after the popular holiday town was plunged into darkness for about three days during the festive season after the main power line which supplies the area with electricity collapsed.

Not only did many local business suffer major losses as they were forced to close their doors, but several pump stations also failed, resulting in raw sewage flooding streets.

Water could also not be pumped from boreholes, threatening the town’s water supply.

After ratepayers’ association chairman Garth Ford handed over a document with grievances to the mayor, Koerat told the crowd that councillors would study the complaints over the next two to three weeks.

At that stage two women protesters held up a banner behind Koerat.

That is when a scuffle broke out during which Fadi allegedly pushed Cheryl Lyon out of the way. A security guard intervened and broke up the scuffle.

Koerat and Fadi then disappeared into the municipal building and the gates were locked.

“Some of the marchers tried to force the mayor to stand in front of their banner so that he could be photographed with them in the background as one does for a marketing campaign.

“They were asked to refrain from doing so but refused to move, hence the scuffle,” municipal spokeswoman Laura-Leigh Randall said. Lyon reported the matter to police. Ford said residents were fed up with lack of service delivery, infrastructure maintenance and general management.

The auditor-general’s report last year questioned the municipality spending of R39.2-million in various categories.

-Yolande Stander 

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