The situation in Muden continues to spiral out of control, with blockade action on the regional road through the village spreading to farm access roads in the area. Protests and blockades by the Zimbambeleni community at Muden are getting worse as government continues to offer words and promises, but no action.
Since 22nd July the Muden pass has been repeatedly blocked with huge boulders, a bread truck has been burned out, two wooden bridges in the valley have been burned and destroyed, farms in the area have been plundered and the access road to Mhlopeni Nature Reserve has been blockaded with large boulders and cut down trees.
This piece from the Greytown Gazette gives some background:
Mhlopeni Nature Reserve access road blockaded.24 July 2013
MUDEN ROAD BLOCKADED ...AGAIN
Well over a year ago National and Provincial government assured the protestors in Muden that, despite having taken no action over the past 12 years to solve the situation action would be now be taken .This was after the almost month long blockade of the Greytown/Muden road which led to considerable hardships on both sides of the road affecting businesses; transport and most of all thousands of school children in Muden who could not go to school or whose teachers were not able to get there. The reason - 13 years of discussion and negotiations with the land owners (Lot 194 Marina Beach) who are willing to sell a substantial portion, the residents on Hillermann farm who demand service delivery , and Provincial and National government who meet, talk and promise and do absolutely nothing to further, let alone finalise the situation. But last year’s blockades did not achieve the hoped for end results.
And once again angry protestors are taking this disruptive action hoping that the powers that be will get the message and actually do something positive. Zimbambeleni head Jeffrey Ngobese told the Greytown Gazette that the community had submitted letters, made phone calls and despite Minister Collins Chabane visit to the community and assurances that action would be taken - there was nothing.
There were major hold ups on the road which was solidly blocked from about 2.30 on Monday morning...and again on Tuesday with already considerable damage (a SASKO truck delivering bread was set alight) and chaos - matrics should be writing their trials but about 30 or so teachers were stuck in Greytown on Monday morning because of the safety railings ripped from the sides of the road, rocks and burning tyre blockades at Santa Maria and Mount Ernestina School.
RTI personnel moved in to control and monitor and were joined by POP personnel from Pietermaritzburg and Greytown and Muden Police., A Department of Transport TLB and driver was used to open a single lane for light vehicles on Monday but was then vandalised.
Whilst sympathising with the residents frustrations at the total lack of action on the part of all sections of Government involved the impact on all members of the community the impact on all members of the community is considerable- as queried in the past, what will it take for the message to get through to Government that 13 years of no action is not acceptable at any level. And that these protests will continue until the promised action is taken.
On 29th July Joy Alcock reported from Mhlopeni Nature Reserve in the Muden valley as follows:
Picture: Richard Alcock and son Andy clear the remains of a demolished stone gateway as they struggle through the night to get back home.Sunday night, 21st the Muden pass was trashed. A few big rocks were put across our road, below the eagles nest and Umphafa camp was raided, 12 matrasses and an iron frame bed stolen, together with small kitchen items and cleaning materials, but nothing trashed or broken.
On Monday we cleared the rocks from the road.
Monday night, our access road was totally trashed. Huge rocks were barred down from the slopes and trees cut down to block the way. The moon was full and they must have worked all night. Richard phoned the SAPS Muden and I walked down to Andy's site by the Mooi to hold the fort there while he came up with some labour to clear the mess off. Got it cleared by about 2.30 p.m. same day.
A bread van and 2 wooden bridges over the Mooi River were burnt out.
No action here on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, but Muden Pass attacked again, this time with glass as well as rocks and trees. Jeffrey makes a statement via East Coast radio to the effect that 500 families are in "slavery" on farms, no water or sanitation provided and protests will continue until the situation is remedied by the authorities.
Thursday 25th July Fritz and Andy had to go via Keates Drift to Greytown for provisions. They arrived at our drift on the Mhlopeni stream at 3.30p.m. and found it ripped apart, huge boulders blocking the way. Andy began to clear the way (Fritz can't do much with his gammy leg) and a crowd began to gather to watch. Only one guy came to help him. It started to get a bit hairy as the crowd grew and included youths from the Mission farm, so Andy called the cops who arrived in half an hour. He also phoned Richard to tell him to start evacuating his site on the big truck and load as much as he could. Well to put it shortly, it took another 8 hours to get to the farmhouse, clearing blockades along the way, only arriving 11.30 p.m.
That night a mob attacked Martin's barn on Thornton farm, ransacked, stole, and terrorised the guards. They raided Andy's little house, smashed and burned what they could get their hands on, including our new tent and 3 water tanks (tyres put on top and set fire). Stole most of the vegetables etc. Obviously very frustrated the solar panels were gone, so smashed the roof off.
KwaZulu-Natal MEC responds to Muden protests:
After 13 years of engagement without results, it's not surprising the Zimbambeleni community has ignored the MEC and protest action in the Muden area continues to escalate.Mchunu condemns road blockage by the Muden community
25 Jul 2013
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Willies Mchunu, notes with concern the so-called service delivery protests accompanied by the acts of violence, stone-throwing and blockading of roads in Muden near Greytown.
The MEC condemns the blockading of road linking Muden with Greytown as this has a negative impact on the economy of these small farming towns. It is understood that the protests were triggered by a difference over land ownership, which is being contested between the community and a local farmer. This conflict has brought instability to the area, which has affected the free movement of locals and learners.
MEC Mchunu has called on all parties to this conflict to work swiftly towards resolving it so that normality could be achieved. “The Government of KwaZulu-Natal respects the Constitutional rights of the people of Muden to protest lawfully and peacefully.
However, violent protests that impede the freedom of others to exercise their rights and to drive safely on provincial roads are totally unacceptable and should be condemned with in strongest possible terms.”
“In this regard, I urge those who have genuine grievances to rather engage in a dialogue with authorities in a bid to resolve their problems rather than embarking on violent protests that may undermine the validity of their cause,” said Mchunu. Mchunu also called on those in authorities to engage the leadership of the protest and seek to find a lasting solution to the local problems and challenges.
“However, in a situation like this police have a duty to safeguard peace, protect life and property and ensure that the situation returns to normality. And as such police are keeping a close eye on the situation in Muden and I want to warn those who will be found in a possession of doing what is against the law while protesting they will be arrested,” he said.