Eight arrested in violent Mahikeng protests – SAPS

Protesters playing a game of 'hide and seek' with police

Eight arrested in Mahikeng violent protests – police

19 April 2018

Eight people have been arrested for public violence in Mahikeng after violent protests in the area overnight, police said on Thursday morning.

Police spokesperson Colonel Adele Myburgh said the situation remained tense in the morning.

"The protesters are playing a game of hide and seek with the police. They get to one area and then, when the police arrive, they move to another area."

Myburgh said this carried on through the night.

Violence broke out in Mahikeng on Wednesday night when protesters took to the streets and called for the removal of North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo.

"Some tuck shops were looted in the [Mahikeng], Mmabatho and Lomanyaneng areas. A truck trailer was torched in Mmabatho."

She said the police had not ruled out criminality.

"Police are maintaining a presence in the area in a bid to try to bring normality [to] the area."

She said there were rumours of mayhem, chaos and warmongering circulating on social media and added that she wanted to warn the community to remain calm because the claims were not true.

Another rumour, said Myburgh, was that protesters were not happy with Mahumapelo and wanted him to step down. She said it could also be related to a service delivery protest.

"It is really difficult to say what the protest is about because there are many rumours circulating," said Myburgh.

'Voluntary defence'

On Wednesday, the situation became violent when residents called for the removal of Mahumapelo.

Some residents reportedly heard gunshots and saw ambulances around the area.

Unit 14, where the premier lives, was said to have been affected.

Other affected areas included Montshioa, Ramosadi, Seweding, Mahikeng CBD, and Unit 13.

A reliable source on the ground told News24 that security was tight in Unit 14 after rumours that protesters were going to set the premier's house alight. A police nyala and two police vans were also seen patrolling.

According to the source, protesters had been hiding in the dark and stoning vehicles, damaging cars and injuring motorists. The villagers are apparently upset about clinics being shut down in the area and are also demanding service delivery.

When contacted for comment, Mahumapelo said: "There's nothing going on. There's nothing to worry about."

Mahumapelo told News24 there were rumours that he would be attacked and that, as a result, neighbours went out to "do voluntary defence".

But, he said his family was safe at home and that his house was not damaged.

He was not at home and has been busy with ANC business since Tuesday.