KZN traditional court, which doubles as a soup kitchen, set alight during protest

A traditional court situated south of Durban, which was also used as a soup kitchen, was set alight during a protest over water shortages on Monday.

About 300 protesters in Ngonyameni near Umla used burning tyres to blockade the road and a police vehicle was also stoned during the fracas.

Provincial MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Nomusa Dube-Ncube has condemned "the senseless act by criminals who torched the Vumengazi Traditional Court". 

"What we have been told is that the community was protesting against water shortages in the area. It does not make sense to then burn the traditional court, which will not bring water. We have on numerous occasions appealed to our communities to not destroy infrastructure when they have grievances. We have urged them to follow proper channels to air their grievances," said Dube-Ncube.

The soup kitchen within the traditional court catered for the needy within the community, she said.

"As a result of this violent service delivery protest, families [who] were relying on this soup kitchen have nothing to eat. The current economic climate is such that government resources are stretched as we have to do more with less and this act of criminality is denying members of this community access to important services that were rendered by the traditional court," added Dube-Ncube. 

She appealed to residents to desist from destroying infrastructure during protests because "it is setting us back".

"When we provide infrastructure as government, we expect communities to protect it as it is of use to them. We call upon law enforcement agencies to make an example out of the perpetrators of his heinous act," said Dube-Ncube.

Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said: "A case of public violence has been opened for investigation. No arrests have been made," said.

She added that a state vehicle was also stoned during the protest.