■ Joe Dreyer
The culprit believed to be behind the violence that erupted at a sanctioned protest in Phalaborwa last week, has seemingly disappeared. It is reported that the man, who owns and manages a security company in the area is well-known to local CPF and SAPS members and has a reputation as a ruffian.
Following last week’s violent clashes during which said individual was severely beaten, three homes of prominent members of the Makhushani community were attacked by a group believed to be affiliated to this man’s security company. Two of the homes were torched. One of the homes belonged to the CLO of Foskor mine and the other belonged to the chairman of the BCF (the peaceful group of marchers who initially rallied to Palabora Copper after receiving permission to stage the march). One of the home owners was hospitalized.
We spoke to a member of the community who confirmed the incidents. “Yes, the homes of the leaders of our group were torched by this group of thugs who all work for that man. He supplies them with vehicles too.”
The resident, himself a prominent voice in the township areas around Phalaborwa, warned that retribution will be exacted upon the culprit because the community has had it with his antics. The suspect has not been seen since.
We have asked SAPS spokesperson, Lt Col Moatshe Ngoepe for information on the arson cases, but at the time of going to print we had not had any responses from his office on the matter. PMC has not yet released any media statements on the march or the conflict in front of their gates either. It is alleged that the reason this man and his group arrived and subsequently took control of the march, was because of contracts with the mine that he unsuccessfully applied for.
Last year, during the #Gatvol March by ratepayers to the municipal buildings, this same man arrived in the parking lot and threatened to get violent with some of the marchers. He also refused to allow the group access to electricity for their sound system which they obtained prior permission for. He even aggressively confronted a member of the DA and screamed at the marchers “you will do nothing to me because I am connected to everyone in that building [BPM municipal building].”