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Tensions high in NW after night of clashes between police, protesters

Shops have been looted and properties torched during growing calls for the removal of Premier Supra Mahumapelo, who’s been accused of corruption and maladministration.

FILE: Protesters from Top Village township blocking the main road leading into Mahikeng during protests against Premier Supra Mahumapelo. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Tensions remain high in the North West on Friday morning following a night of running battles between protesters and police officers ahead of a visit by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

On Thursday, a man died after the vehicle he was travelling in crashed into protesters who were trying to evade authorities during a looting spree.

Shops have been looted and properties torched during growing calls for the removal of Premier Supra Mahumapelo, who’s been accused of corruption and maladministration.

Ramaphosa’s visit follows a meeting earlier this week by the African National Congress’ (ANC) national working committee and the provincial leadership to discuss obvious tensions within the party.

Friday marks day three since violent protests began, businesses have been shut down and schooling disrupted as calls for the premier to step down intensify.

The ANC Women’s League in the province says it’s concerned that young children are being used to advance a political agenda, while the ANCYL has described the protests as a barbaric campaign orchestrated by party members seeking to overthrow Mahumapelo.

Police have confirmed one death and at least 23 arrests, while roads have been barricaded with boulders and rubble.

Mahumapelo’s detractors in the ANC, who call themselves the Revolutionary Council, have distanced themselves from the acts of violence but say it’s time the national leadership recognises the seriousness of the problems in the province.

Ramaphosa and an NEC delegation are expected to intervene on Friday afternoon after the president cut short his UK trip.

WATCH: Mahikeng on a knife-edge as protesters demand Mahumapelo’s removal

At the same time, the ANC in the North West is pleading with community members in and around Mahikeng for space to investigate allegations of corruption against Mahumapelo.

The ANC’s Boy Noko says: “Those members calling for him [Mahumapelo] to step down are the ones responsible for that section.”

Meanwhile, the Economic Freedom Fighters' Thabo Sehloho says it’s clear that the premier is involved in corrupt activities.

“The premier arranged a trip for him to India and Thabo Lekalakala confessed that Mahumapelo influences him to appoint Mediosa, which means the premier is involved in corrupt activities.”

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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