SMME group’s leaders in court

NO TO BAIL: A group of  Walmer Township  residents protest outside the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court yesterday as two SMME owners, accused of attacking members from other SMMEs, appeared in court Picture: RIAAN MARAIS -
NO TO BAIL: A group of Walmer Township residents protest outside the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court yesterday as two SMME owners, accused of attacking members from other SMMEs, appeared in court Picture: RIAAN MARAIS –

TENSION between rival SMMEs in Nelson Mandela Bay spilt over into the courts yesterday when an angry crowd gathered at the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court while one group’s leader appeared on assault charges.

Violence between the small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) erupted last week as opposing groups fought over municipal construction projects in the Walmer area, with each group claiming they were entitled to the contracts. The rival groups exchanged blows last Thursday and a meeting at the Walmer police station was disrupted on Friday.

Hours later the leader of one of the SMME groups, Luvuyo Popo, and colleague Thothi Mgantweni were arrested on assault charges. They were released on bail.

However, the state now wants bail withdrawn as new witness statements have come to light, and the charges have been changed to attempted murder.

The arrests come after Popo told The Herald last week “someone is going to be killed soon . . .we are going to hack them” – referring to rival groups.

Dozens of members from opposing groups gathered outside the court yesterday singing, dancing and waving posters with the words: “No bail for Popo and his Walmer criminals.”

Magistrate Jan van der Westhuizen said the proper application, with enough evidence, had to be brought before the withdrawal of bail was considered. The case was postponed to March 9.

-Riaan Marais

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