Free State Premier calls for calm in Ficksburg

Pretoria - Free State Premier Ace Magashule has called for calm and for communities to behave responsibly following a violent protest in Ficksburg.

"We have noted with concern the death of 33-year-old Andries Tatane, and the damage to public and private property during the protest in Ficksburg. We send our condolences to the family of Tatane. Our thoughts are with the family during this difficult time," Magashule said.

The Free State provincial government said it sympathised with the community, whom it believed had genuine concerns about service delivery issues. However, violence which has led loss of life and to the burning of municipal buildings cannot be condoned.

"We will never be able to solve any problem by burning property. The cost of repairing the damaged property has not been determined but it will be significant. We call on communities to engage constructively with the municipality and the provincial government and not destroy public property.

"Public property such as municipal buildings and home affairs offices belong to the community and the destruction such infrastructure will only serve to worsen the living conditions of our people.

"We have fought hard to protect the democratic right of citizens to express their grievances. However, we cannot exercise this right in a way that is not constructive. Violence is not acceptable. The provincial government will work with the community of Ficksburg to address the genuine concerns of our people," he said.

Magashue said the provincial government has launched Operation Hlasela, to help it beef up service delivery by focusing on the needs of the people.

The campaign has provided a platform for people to express their concerns to government and where possible, government has addressed such concerns with the necessary speed it deserves, said the premier.

"Through Operation Hlasela, we can confidently say that service delivery has been improved and resources are now used more effectively, achieving greater impact and removing unnecessary bureaucratic blockages. We urge communities to continue to work with us to improve their living conditions," he said.

- BuaNews