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South Africa president leaves Commonwealth summit to address protests at home

20 April 2018

North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo seen on 18 April 2018, where ANC met to discuss tensions in the province amid calls for his resignation.

Ramaphosa was in the process of returning to Pretoria on Thursday, to address the meeting in the North West on Friday, the presidency said in a statement.

The President has also called on law-enforcement agencies to exercise maximum restraint in execution of their duties to return calm and normality to the province.

"Since then, violent protests flared up in and around Mahikeng, vehicles were torched, roads are closed and the capital city was brought to a standstill today".

Ramaphosa will consult the African National Congress's (ANC) so-called top-six leaders about Supra Mahumapelo, International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu told reporters in London Friday.

President Ramaphosa, who took office in February, has sought to encourage investment in South Africa during his visit to the UK.

South Africa's Independent Online says protesters are using stones as weapons, and police are responding with tear gas and rubber bullets in an attempt to break up the protest.

On Thursday, protesters barricaded two main entrances leading into Mahikeng with burning tyres and rocks.

Police spokesperson, Adele Myburgh, says police were trying to disperse about 3000 protestors who attempted to destroy and set buildings on fire.

"While there are often genuine service delivery protests, we as the ANC, regard these latest acts of violence in Mahikeng as political opportunism disguised as community outrage", said acting provincial Secretary Sussana Dantjie.

"We condemn the violence, torching and damage to property by protesters and want to make it clear that this is wrong..."

The North West provincial government said Lekalakala was suspended on Thursday, for disciplinary proceeding against him could start. "These acts of violence has led to learners not being able to go to schools, patients being unable to access health facilities, while public servants in clinics around Mahikeng and Mahikeng Provincial Hospital are being harassed by some of the protesters". Police have arrested 23 people for looting, regional police said on their Twitter account.

The NWBF first made the call for Mahumapelo to leave in 2015, but its meetings and protest marches were disrupted by the premier's loyalists.

South Africa president leaves Commonwealth summit to address protests at home