Peace has finally returned to Mankweng township in Limpopo city of Polokwane after residents of the township flooded the area in protest for two weeks. Angry residents had protested against the gigantic figures they see on their water bill. Reports said that some residents even owed up to R100 000.
The municipality made this known to residents on Wednesday evening and it was welcomed by all and sundry, as it is evident that local businesses in the area have started crumbling because of the persistent protest.
Buzzsouthafrica gathered that Mankweng township residents have been on pins and needles because of the “erroneous” water bill they receive. And for the past two years, they have been demanding that the municipality conduct an audit or write off their debts.
“We are talking one thing in different tongues. What we want is for you to write off debts,” said an angry resident.
Following the incidence, Executive mayor Thembi Nkadimeng and her team promised the township residents that council would address the issue. Having met with hundreds of residents who had suspended their protests pending the Wednesday evening meeting with the council, the council decided to wipe off their bills.
“Residents of Mankweng, the position of council is that from 28 of January the council took a decision that we are saying property assessment rate and water balance is zero,” Nkadimeng told residents.
The executive mayor Nkadimeng said the council decided to write off the debts believed to run into millions of rands. It is believed that this will help forestall some crisis in the township.
The news swept through the township, as residents were seen celebrating and expressing their joy.
Responding to the development, a community leader Malebana Makama, who couldn’t his joy said, “All that we wanted [was] ‘zero’, and we are glad that at the end of the fight, that it is what we got.”
Last week, Mankweng township residents who took to the streets to protest against the municipal water bills were fired teargas and rubber bullets by the police. Protesters, who were disappointed said they received water bills but never saw meter readers on their streets.
Buzzsouthafrica gathered that members of the community bridged the R71 that links Polokwane, the ZCC (Zion Christian Church) headquarters, Tzaneen and the Kruger National Park with burning tyres, timbers and drainage pipes.
Later, the community leader Makamu Malebana deliberated the matter with the executive mayor, who promised that “she will appoint auditors to investigate if the meters are working or not.” But a resident Malebana confirmed that the community rejected the mayor’s idea and demanded that their debts be written off.
“Since 2013, we wrote to municipality saying let’s engage, but they were not willing to listen to us. Now we took a resolution that we will fight it on the streets,” Malenbana said.
Residents said the municipality was forcing them to pay for water while other residents were not paying. Polokwane, meaning “Place of Safety”, is a city in the Polokwane local municipality and the capital of the Limpopo province.