Municipal building torched in Ventersdorp

News24 Correspondent, News24

Ventersdorp - A municipal building and a car were set alight on Friday amid protests by Ventersdorp residents, opposing a proposed merger with Tlokwe municipality.

North West police spokesperson Colonel Sabata Mokgwabone confirmed that a bakkie was torched in Tshing. He could not, however, confirm whether the municipal building's fire was linked to the protest.

Ventersdorp residents took to the streets on Friday, protesting against the merger of their municipality and the Tlokwe [Potchefstroom] municipality. They said they were not consulted about the merger.

The Democratic Alliance has also opposed the merger, saying it would disadvantage tax payers in Tlokwe.

"The DA opposes the amalgamation as it will have a negative impact on Potchefstroom’s financial position. Ventersdorp struggles with non-payment and a poor collection rate. Residents from both towns share the DA’s objection that service delivery will suffer even more if these two towns should merge," caucus leader in Tlokwe, Chris Landsberg said.

"The DA will continue to fight the amalgamation and ensure the ANC is stopped in its tracks to continue with actions like these that they only do for political gain and not in the interest of the people of this area."

The protest in Ventersdorp coincided with another protest in Potchefstroom.

Residents of Ikageng near Potchefstroom said Ventersdorp was "too rural" and they would be disadvantaged when it came to receiving municipal services.

During the protest residents burnt tyres and damaged several spaza shops in the township.

Landsberg said DA members were instructed not to participate in violent protest.

"The DA, however questions if Potch/Tlowke will become a Khutsong, before the ANC listen to the community."

Khutsong residents waged a violent protest in February 2006, against the incorporation of their municipality Merafong into the North West province; they wanted to remain within the Gauteng province. A decision was later made that they would remain in Gauteng.