Police commissioner condemns North West violence

A patient has died after ambulance was denied access to hospital, SABC crew also robbed

Police commissioner condemns North West violence, as patient dies and SABC crew robbed

26 April 2018

The South Africa Police Service (SAPS) has called for peace in the North West after nearly two weeks of violent protests aimed at ousting embattled Premier Supra Mahumapelo.

Protests started in the capital Mahikeng last week and have since spread to a number of towns throughout the province.

National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole called for the return of peace and calm to the province.

"I am urging the communities of these affected areas, especially community leaders, to come together and work toward peace and stability through robust discussions and negotiations instead of violence," he said.

"Since the outbreak of violence I have instructed additional deployments of various disciplines of the SAPS to stabilise and normalise the affected areas."

Sitole condemned the loss of life and damage to property in the province.

'Sheer criminality'

On Wednesday, there were reports that ambulances had been denied entrance to the Tshepong Hospital in Klerksdorp, which led to a patient's death. Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone said he was not aware of the incident.

Spokesperson for the North West department of health Tebogo Lekgethwane said the patient died in hospital.

"The ambulances struggled to get through to where the hospital was, but they eventually got through. When they got to the hospital, he was declared dead," he said.

"If he was brought in much earlier, he might have been saved."

The SABC reported that its video crew was robbed of its equipment and personal belongings outside Klerksdorp.

Sitole, in a statement, said: "These actions, which over this past week began as protest actions, have since turned to sheer criminality after vehicles were set alight, shops and buildings looted, private and government buildings broken into and vandalised."

The protests have spread to other areas including Wolmaransstad, Makwassie, Itsoseng, Zeerust, Vryburg, Delareyville, Taung, Pudimoe and Christiana.

"In the process of stabilisation and normalisation of the areas, more than a hundred suspects aged between 18 and 60 years have been arrested in Mahikeng, Mmabatho, Delareyville and Lomanyaneng on charges of malicious damage to property, public violence, possession of suspected stolen goods and business robbery," Sitole said.

He said the suspects would be taken through the court process and the police would ensure they face the full brunt of the law in an effort to end what he called lawless behaviour.