Protesters call for total shutdown of Makhado

March over municipality’s failure to provide services planned for Tuesday

By Bernard Chiguvare

22 January 2024

Photo of protesters

More than 60 Tshikota residents, mostly youths, marched to Makhado municipality to hand over a memorandum of demands on Monday. Photos: Bernard Chiguvare

There were two protests in Louis Trichardt on Monday. About 60 people from Tshikota marched to the Makhado Municipality, while hundreds of Zoutpansberg Community Development Forum (ZCDF) members picketed at the Louis Trichardt information centre.

A march and a total shutdown of the town are planned for Tuesday.

Demonstrators were ferried in by bus and minibus taxi from Sinthumule, Kutama and Tshikota. Many shops closed, fearing looting.

Flyers from the organisers said no political slogans or regalia would be permitted.

Patrick Sikhutshi, forum chairperson, said the government “has failed to provide basic services to the people”. Issues include water shortages, unreliable electricity and road infrastructure falling apart.

“Without these basic services life becomes unbearable for residents,” said Sikhutshi.

In 2020, the forum marched over the same service issues and nothing has improved, he said.

On Sunday, the forum met with Makhado municipal officials. But the forum is demanding that the Limpopo MEC for public works and infrastructure address residents about the poor state of the roads, specifically the D3715 to Kutama and Sinthumule.

Maphaha Mashamba, chairperson of the Dzanani 2 Taxi Association, said more than 200 minibus taxis use the route. “Nearly every week taxi owners have to deal with repairs and really it means running a loss,” he said.

Photo of protesters

People picket at Makhado’s information centre on Monday over a lack of services.

Meanwhile, 60 Tshikota residents, mostly youths, marched to the municipality to hand over a memorandum of demands. They wanted the mayor to address them. By 2pm no one had addressed them.

Mahlatse Mathelegana, a community leader, said people were angry because their electricity had been cut off for failure to pay water bills and residents were now using firewood for cooking and candles for light.

Mathelegana said people refused to pay for water because their taps were dry most of the time. GroundUp has published several stories about the unreliable water supply in Tshikota. Some households have had no water for four years.

Other grievances included a lack of job opportunities and alleged favouritism in the provision of houses.

Mathelegana said they had not allowed anyone to enter the municipal offices or any vehicles to enter. “This is probably the language the municipality understands best,” he said.

Mathelegana told GroundUp that they had sent a delegation to talk to the municipality.

Municipal comment will be added if received.