Matatiele residents end protests after meeting with MEC

Matatiele residents have suspended their protest following a meeting with the Eastern Cape MEC for Transport, in which he promised to fix the town's roads.

During the meeting on Tuesday afternoon with MEC Weziwe Tikane, the department committed to resuming road construction this coming Monday, GroundUp reported.

Matatiele residents say they have been complaining about the condition of their roads for six years.

Residents agreed not to damage any more property. Three of the department's vehicles were burnt during a recent protest.

Department spokesperson Unathi Bhinqose said a committee had been formed comprising residents and government officials, and would meet this week. He said an agreement about protection of departmental machinery and staff was likely to be signed.

Tikane said: "I cannot risk departmental assets. If they end up being burnt again, I will be an irresponsible leader."

Community leader Teboho Stemera said they were pleased with the outcome of the meeting with the MEC.

"We will sign the agreement."

Stemera said it was unfortunate that the protest had turned violent.

Calm had been restored in the town following Tuesday's meeting, he said.

But it was unfortunate the community's demands would be met only after protest action.

"We have been in engagements with the government since 2012. We are disappointed it took a massive service delivery protest before they could fix the roads. But we are pleased with their promise," said Stemera.