Only the police can resolve the situation in Tshwane now, says the DA.
Kwena Moloto, spokesperson for the DA caucus in Tshwane, says the police have so far treated the illegal strike in Tshwane as a labor dispute (which explains the police’s alleged failure to act).
“However, this is no longer a labor dispute,” says Moloto.
“This is blatant criminality and organized crime.”
The council therefore asks that the police intervene and restore law and order in the metro area.
Since the start of the strike, the Tshwane Metro Council has lodged no less than 42 criminal charges with the police, including public violence, arson, assault, willful damage to property, intimidation and attempted murder.
Only 22 arrests have been made so far – and all for public violence charges. Most of the suspects are also at large again.
Some of the cases were closed within days without a single witness being interviewed.
Moloto says the police are failing to investigate the incidents of violence, even though the metro has presented sufficient evidence. According to him, this evidence includes a Telegram group on which striking workers, among other things, conspired to sabotage the metro.
“However, the South African Police Service (SAPS) has not been involved in any meaningful way to date,” says Moloto.
Grandi Theunissen, mayoral committee member for community safety, says the metro feels “quite isolated” since the start of the illegal strike.
“Does a life have to be in danger before they intervene? We already had a shooting incident. We have had assaults before…”
RNews earlier reported that a water tanker and a bakkie from the metro’s asset protection monitoring unit, three trucks from the department of water and sanitation, as well as an A Re Yeng bus were damaged or destroyed in several violent attacks in Pretoria’s city center last week.
Four of these vehicles were set on fire.
Metro will fight against administration
Moloto says the chance of the Gauteng provincial government putting the Tshwane metro under administration again is probably the last thing the metro needs now.
The metro council will therefore fight tooth and nail to prevent this from happening.
“We are confident that they will not succeed in placing us under administration,” says Moloto.
“The city is still in a dire financial state due to the last time, in 2020, it was placed under administration. We went from a budget surplus of R400 million to a deficit of R4 billion.
“This is not the time for politics. This is a time for coming together to save the city, because the city is engaged in a war: Not against the workers, but against criminals.”
Some municipal workers have taken the Tshwane metro area by the horns in the past month after the council indicated it did not have the money for salary increases.
“This will add an additional R600 million to our wage bill and we simply cannot afford it,” says Moloto. “In order to do this, we will have to cut services to residents and the executive mayor has made it clear that he refuses to do that.
“We are now calling on Samwu to get actively involved in ending the strike he started. The union may have said earlier that it no longer supports the strike, but it needs to show leadership and not wash its hands of the chaos it has created.”