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NMB council speaker concerned about disruptions of public participation meetings

Four of these meetings have been disrupted in the past week and Thursday night’s public meeting in Colchester was the latest incident.

Nelson Mandela Bay residents are seen during a public participation meeting. Picture: facebook.com.

CAPE TOWN - The Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) council speaker says he’s concerned about the recent disruptions of public participation meetings.

Four of these meetings have been disrupted in the past week and Thursday night’s public meeting in Colchester was the latest incident.

Attendees were planning to consider the budget and integrated development plan for the next financial year, but some community members disrupted proceedings.

Council speaker Jonathan Lawack says someone wearing an Economic Freedom Fighters T-shirt interrupted him, demanding the land issue be discussed.

“All hell broke loose soon after that, and we were trapped in the hall for about an hour before the police came to the rescue. They were throwing stones and petrol bombs while we were trapped like mice.”

The police's Andre Beetge says they're investigating a case of public violence.

He says a group of about 200 residents moved from protesting in and around the hall to the N2.

They started burning rubble and throwing stones at passing cars.

“The residences blocked the entrance to the hall by burning flammable objects and also threw stones at the delegates’ vehicles. A total of seven vehicles were damaged.”

Beetge adds one man was arrested in the process.

Meanwhile, EFF regional caucus leader Zilindile Vena says it's disingenuous of Lawack to blame the violence on the party.

“No one knows the name of that guy who was speaking there, that community member. So, no one can say that that person is a member of the EFF unless the EFF verify his name and his membership. So to us it can’t be a party thing, you can’t attribute it to any party.”

Vena says people have lost confidence in the public participation processes.

“Because whenever they give their own input then comes the time of budget and IDP, their priorities are not there, so why participate in such a thing? So from what I got, people are revolting against this process because it has never yielded any results.”

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