Emotions ran high on Friday 11 May 2018 when irate re-sidents from Mapoteng and Sesheng near Kathu burnt tyres as they protested against pre-paid services sus-pended by the Gamagara municipality for the non-pay-ment of property tax. The situation was contained by a strong police presence and fire fighting personnel. The mayor, the speaker and councillors also rushed to the area. Calm was restored when the services were re-connected. A solution to the problems were due to be discussed with a task team the following week.
Industrial action has halted traffic along a key road for moving semi-carbonate manganese ore from mines along the R31 between Hot-azel and Kuruman.
The R31 main road was blockaded on Tuesday morning 15 May 2018 by many trucks in a demonstration about a dispute over truck drivers' earnings. The R31 is used to trans-port huge volumes of manganese ore from several mines by road to-wards the coastal port situated near Port Elizabeth. Workers at the va-rious mines and residents of Hotazel were unable to use the road.
The relative strength of manga-
nese ore prices this year - in relation to last year - means exports are like-ly to be higher this year than in 2017 - a motivational factor for the truck drivers to demand higher wages.
A strong police presence was also on the scene of the industrial action.
The impact of the action will depend on the length of time of negotiations between the representatives of the truckers and the service companies that employ them. The truck drivers are campaigning for higher wages of R10 000 per month plus various al-lowances.
“It is premature to say what the im-plications will be. We should give it a
day or two but I am not concerned at this point – time will tell,” a source at a mining company said. Another source said the problem would be solved with no implications for the exports. “This is just normal indus-trial action, our operations are not impacted,” a source close to Kudu-mane Manganese Resources said. “This is to do with truckers and is not mining related.”
Miners South32, UMK and Tshipi were unable to comment when ap-proached.
As tensions remain high in the vast village of Batlharos, hooli-gans have taken a new twist to express their anger.
The tribal office had its two offices gutted by fire on April 23, 2018 during the night.
When the Kathu Gazette visited the tribal offices in the afternoon, the pre-mises were already cordoned off, with the main entrance closed.
SAPS members were on site waiting for the forensic team to come and as-sess the extent of the damage. The police were still investigating the mat-ter.
Reliable sources revealed that the chief and secretary's offices had been extensively damaged by the fire. The unresolved conflict surrounding the chief and her divergent community could be the source of the burning of the tribal office.
Authorities have condemned the burning of the tribal office as acts of lawlessness.
A trail of violent disturbances in the broader village of Batlha-ros occurred on April 20, 2018 as a result of the alleged many is-sues that remain unresolved hinging around the Kalagadi Manganese Mine on one hand and the para-mount chief Pelonomi Toto - the sitting provincial chairperson of the Traditional House, on the other hand.
The sad events were initially pre-mised by a protest that commenced on April 06, 2018 that sought au-dience with the beleaguered chief in the same village, allegedly claiming that a clandestine agreement had been reached between her and the mine that remains a skeleton in the cupboard.
Part of the community believes she is defending the mine from being confronted outright. There is also a seething chieftaincy row that simply needs a simple trigger to spark off the dispute and the mine could be the possible scapegoat.
The following week, two meetings aimed at resolving the impasse on April 10 and 12, 2018 in the village ended up in sheer chaos and had to be adjourned to April 18, 2018 at Kuruman police station - ostensibly for security reasons.
Chaired by the station commander Brigadier Kenneth Baloyi, contend-ing parties, the working sub-commit-tee under the chief, chief Toto and her council members, Kalagadi mine
representatives, COGHSTA officials and other interested stakeholders attended the explosive meeting.
The Batlharos community repre-sentatives were the organisers of the meeting and nothing had chan-ged from the purpose and expect-ations of the meeting, ie to meet the Chief Executive Officer of Kalagadi Manganese Mine, Mr Thulo Madu-mise and the mine’s General Mana-ger Mr Wonder Zwane.
The community representatives expected a response from the mine regarding the memorandum sub-mitted regarding the employment opportunities arising from the mine : Why the mine considers people from outside the region instead of locals among other issues ?
They also wanted to get clarity as to why the mine instituted a court interdict instead of seeking audience with them. Instead the mine sent an irrelevant officer to present a letter at the meeting, ie Ms Tshegofatso Gasekoma, rendering the meeting also valueless.
In that letter the mine authorities put it categorically that they are pre-pared to meet the collective region's traditional leadership to resolve the recurrent pressing issues once a formal invitation letter with the agen-da has been submitted. Importantly, the letter must also be from authori-tative office bearers who represent the community.
After the mine representative read
out the letter, emotions rose like a yard full of chickens that discover a snake in their midst. However, the Brigadier was able to control the flaring tensions in his boardroom.
The meeting was cut short with the conclusion that the only way forward was to invite the Minister of Mineral Resources on a date to be decided upon, with his departmental officials, all chiefs in the district, their coun-cils, municipalities, the provincial traditional house, all mines in the re-gion, all political parties in the region and the police provincial commiss-ioner, as the only way to derail the great controversy in the region.
A day later, the community of Batl-haros went to close the Hotazel road at dawn of April 20, 2018 expressing their anger over the fruitless meet-ing. Unfortunately, the police had gotten the wind of the intentions and botched the protest, followed by several arrests at the mining belt - Hotazel, Vergenoeg and Batlharos village - the sources of all unrest.
The very same day, some acts of vandalism occurred at Batlharos vil-lage and the police took another bold step by protecting the community from the looting of shops and the vandalisation of properties.
Tens of the arrested were detained in Kathu and Kuruman holding cells and appeared in court on April 23, 2018.
Temptations have spoiled the good work that the detective, Johannes Shupping (29) has been doing between Kuruman and Kathu stations. The detective was arrested in Kathu station on May 4, 2018 for allegedly taking a bribe to help out a complainant. The bribe, accord-ing to sources, was to be given in parts and the first part led to the arrest.
The complainant approached the detec-tive for assistance and as negotiations progressed well the detective allegedly end-ed up soliciting for something to en-sure speedy intervention was made. The client was taken aback on hearing that there ought to be something out of his poc-ket to have his matter attended to with im-mediate attention.
He took the matter to the Kimberley of-fice. The Kimberley office set a trap and availed the money that led to the arrest of the detective. He is on a R500 bail. A num-ber of allegations have been raised in the past where some SAPS members solicit or are sweetened to cut short the hand of justice. While this is a sad story to SAPS members it also must be an awakening call that wrong-doing in the discourse of justice has a very short journey
The entire country is haunted by yet another wave of lack of discipline in schools.
Learners are on the rampage, attacking fellow learners in and outside the school pre-mises for very flimsy reasons.
Educators too find themselves trapped in the fracas. Bankara High School was on April 18, 2018 in that wave of madness where learners stormed at each other in groups, terrorising those who still have the appetite to learn.
Police had to intervene to bring the situation under control but, as is usual, casualties mark the episodes of this nature. One of the learners had to be rushed to the Kimberley hospital after being butchered in the stomach.
The learners involved in these self-in-duced atrocities, carry lethal weapons to mete out justice against their targeted anta-gonists. This leaves the vulnerable educator equally engulfed in danger.
Most teachers in this area have raised their serious concerns about the level of learner delinquency driven predominantly by the use of drugs.
Educators do not see a breakthrough soon, as long as learners have access to these drugs.
Most educators, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that if the source of drugs is not eliminated, current intervention methods will remain ineffective, because the sup-pliers know their lucrative consumers are at schools.
In Kuruman Mapoteng another group of youths created a similar drama on April 20, 2018, however the police, upon getting the
information, responded swiftly and this time upped their sleeves as a demonstration that they are obliged to control anarchy and hooliganism in children.
Adults now have realised that political rhetoric has created more harm than good to their children hidden in the false jacket of democracy and the misinterpretation of human rights.
If politicians have retracted from their failed policies and recycled the 'back to the
basics mantra'. Why can't they declare the Biblical mantra of 'Spare the rod and spoil the child too?'
Children have become like a vehicle in mo-tion without a steering wheel, with the hope that if you utter the words 'democracy or hu-man rights' it will take the preferred direction.
“That kind of thinking is delusionary and keeps us in this state of affairs,” concerned parents said . . .
On the morning of Thursday 05 April 2018, staff from PicknPay Kathu, supported by members of the Eco-nomic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, sta-ged a demonstration as part of an illegal strike at the Kathu Heritage Mall, blocking the entrance to PicknPay and surrounding shops.
A small number of workers from PicknPay and EFF members sang and chanted inside the building of the mall causing the sound to amplify and reverberate. A sizeable, armed police contingent was present.
According to PicknPay workers, they have many complaints about the management at PicknPay, mostly regarding working condi-tions and remuneration issues.
Asked why they did not approach their trade union representative from SACCAWU, they said that the union did not respond sa-tisfactorily to their call for assistance, hence they resorted to the EFF.
Women members of staff complained that they have to perform various tasks, such as cashiering and cleaning on command. They
get warnings left, right and centre, for instance when they visit the bathroom du-ring work hours instead of their lunch breaks. They also do not get a tea break. Their lockers are located outside the ware-house. There is no roof there. When they work until 20:00 they have to go out there in the dark.
They do not get their payslips in sealed en-velopes, so they are not private. Manage-ment swears at them indiscriminately and uses foul language. They also complained that their work hours had been reduced without prior notice. Workers who had been there for four years already, complained that they had never received bonusses nor do they belong to a provident fund. They added that they are always disregarded for promo-tions.
The workers also suggest that PicknPay's management discriminate against Se-tswa-na people.
The Kathu Gazette approached the leader of the EFF contingent, Olebogeng Leser-wane, to determine why the EFF had be-
come involved with the demonstration. Mr Leserwane, who happens to be a Ga-Se-gonyana local municipality councillor, said that the EFF always becomes involved in is-sues regarding workers, because the party represents the working class.
The Kathu Gazette contacted the office of SACCAWU in Kuruman. An official ex-plained that their members at PicknPay declined their assistance, but that they are nevertheless engaging with the manage-ment of PicknPay Kathu to address the grie-vances of the workers. According to the of-ficial, they were supposed to have a meet-ing with the management of PicknPay on Tuesday 10 April 2018.
A spokesperson from PicknPay, Tamra Capstick-Dale, commented that the incident was “a pretty old story.” According to Ms Capstick-Dale, the issue was resolved very quickly and the store re-opened imme-diately, however, PicknPay Kathu only re-opened by 15:00 that afternoon.