Police spokesperson, Stephen Thakeng, says the protesters reside in an informal settlement closely located to Paballong Village in Welkom and they took to the streets over the lack of service delivery, mirroring protest action in other Free State towns of late. The frustrated protesters barricaded roads in the area, including Alma Road, with burning tyres, garbage and stones. Passing vehicles are reported to have been stoned in the mayhem. Thakeng says the situation has normalised somewhat with public order police monitoring the area closely. “The roads have been cleared now,” assures Thakeng. He says it is safe for motorists to make use of all roads in the area. Welkom falls under the Matjhabeng Local Municipality.
Meanwhile, the situation in the towns of Kroonstad and Steynsrus is continuing to stabilise. Scores of residents in the towns, which fall under the Moqhaka Local Municipality, were arrested at the height of the unrest. In total 53 people - five of whom were minors - appeared in the Kroonstad Magistrate’s Court on Monday, April 15, for public violence. The minors were released on a warning into the custody of their parents, while the adults remain detained till their next appearance on April 24 for bail application. The five Steynsrus protesters, who were arrested on Monday and appeared in the Lindley Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, April 16, will return to court the day before the Easter weekend break. They were among a group of 300 residents who barricaded the R76 road between Steynsrus and Lindley, using road signs, stones, four Jojo tanks and tyres, which were then set alight. He says there was an unsuccessful attempt to burn a disability centre in Matloangtloang. The protesters are also reported to have thrown stones at not only passing cars but residential and business buildings.