Man set alight in scuffle over municipal tender

Small business owner Vuyani Zinto says a ward committee member poured petrol over him when he tried to stop a fencing and flooring project

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Photo of a man with a bandaged head
Vuyani Zinto, chair of an SMME business forum in KwaNobuhle, had his head bandaged after a ward committee member poured petrol on him and set him alight in rivalry over a municipal tender. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

Ongoing protests and rivalry between small business operators in Uitenhage, has resulted in the closure of a municipal project to floor and fence an outdoor public gym on Mqolomba Street, KwaNobuhle.

Vuyani Zinto said that on Thursday morning, in a scuffle between SMME (small, medium and micro enterprise) operators, a ward committee member poured petrol over him and he was pushed towards a burning tyre.

Zinto, together with about 17 members of a business forum he chairs, had tried to stop the municipal project. “They were working against our will, because we had submitted the name of our own SMME to the main contractor … However, we have learnt that the park had two SMMEs working there. They got the tender via our ward councillor, Nomsa Booi.”

A witness, Madi Makgato, said: “We were shocked. We didn’t know that our differences would lead to us burning each other … The man who pushed Zinto carried a 500ml bottle … either diesel or petrol.”

“We tore Zinto’s clothes as they were on fire. We rushed him to a nearby tap in the backyard,” said Makgato.

“It’s the fourth time that we have closed this project. The project started in May this year. Councillor Nomsa Booi fails to recognise us,” she said.

Booi told GroundUp: “They don’t want to work together … I will never get involved in their issues and take sides. All I want to see is peace in my ward.”

Police spokesperson Sergeant Majola Nkohli said: “Three cases were opened, two for intimidation and malicious damage to property … The other case is for assault with grievous bodily harm.”

“Three suspects, aged 58, 65, and 36, were arrested. They will appear in the KwaNobuhle Magistrates Court on Monday,” said Nkohli. “More arrests are imminent as part of the investigation.”

TOPICS:  Crime Economy

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