Lichtenburg – Ditsobotla Local Municipality mayor Daniel Buthelezi and his bodyguards were released unharmed in the early hours of Thursday morning after being held hostage in the municipal offices, North West police confirmed.
Colonel Sabata Mokgwabone said they were released just before 01:00 after negotiations with disgruntled community members.
Police arranged two minibus taxis for the 32 residents and allowed them to get inside with the mayor. They left the municipal offices and were arrested a few streets away.
“The charges are kidnapping, arson and attempted murder,” he said.
On Wednesday, he said a group of people allegedly stormed the municipal building and set a section of the building alight.
The mayor’s spokesperson, Pius Batsile, told News24 at the time that he was not under threat from the community members from Boikhutso in the North West.
Batsile said Buthelezi had been in a meeting with another community at the municipal building when the group stormed the room demanding that he address their concerns.
“They had an appointment at around 14:00 but the mayor got delayed, they demanded that he stop that meeting and address them.”
Batsile said he watched the drama unfold as his office was not too far from the mayor’s office.
“There were about 35 people, they are complaining about the Integrated Development Plan saying that their ward [ward 3] was not included. But we are still busy with the IDP, we are still consulting communities. Nothing is finalised.”
He said as the mayor led the community members to his office, their voices were raised and they were swearing but they did not appear armed.
The municipality was established through the amalgamation of the former Lichtenburg, Coligny and Biesiesvlei Transitional Councils.
Chaos erupted in Coligny several weeks ago when the community took to the streets following the death of a teenager.