Limpopo police warn motorists to avoid road hit by protests

News24 Correspondent

Polokwane - Police in Limpopo have warned motorists to avoid the road between Vuwani and Louis Trichardt, north east of Polokwane, where protests have erupted and one person was reportedly shot and injured.

A community leader said one person was shot and injured with live ammunition, but police dismissed his claim.

Residents took to the streets in protest against the Municipal Demarcation Board's (MDB) plan to include them on the newly proposed municipality in the province.

They barricaded the road with rubble and burning tyres, blocking motorists, including taxi operators and buses, from using the route.

As a result, schooling was suspended in the area.

Local police spokesperson Warrant Officer Elijah Malatji said the protesting residents had blockaded the road since Sunday evening.

"They have closed the road, and it is very dangerous for motorists to use the road - only health and police cars are allowed to pass. Now we are trying to restore order in the area but our focus is protecting shops from looting, and [protecting] other buildings," said Malatji

The protesting residents are against the establishment of a new municipality in Limpopo’s Vhembe district. It is a matter that has caused divisions between Tsonga-speaking and Tshivenda-speaking groups.

The Tsongas believe that the establishment of new municipality will accelerate service delivery in their area, but the Vendas say the municipality would bring back the old Bantustan boundaries.

Over the past two years, residents of Malamulele have been protesting and shutting down their town as they demand their own municipality.

Malatji said they would continue to keep eye on the area.

However, it was not clear what would put an end to the unfolding conflict.

Community leader Arnold Mulaudzi told News24 that one person had been shot and wounded on Monday morning during the protest. He said live rounds were used.

But Malatji dismissed the claim, saying the protesters were making wild allegations.