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News - Date: 10 September 2017
Written by: Andries van Zyl / Viewed: 1045
The Zoutpansberger’s decision to place a picture of a tent erected across Rietbok Street in Louis Trichardt on social media last week sparked a huge furore among some readers.
Tents being pitched across streets in Louis Trichardt have become somewhat of a common occurrence, despite being prohibited by law. The photo was taken and placed with a caption that read: “Residents in Rietbok Street, Louis Trichardt, have expressed their frustration as access to and from their homes has since Friday been blocked by this massive tent erected across the road. The Zoutpansberger was informed by the municipality that permission was not granted to erect the tent or close the road. The municipality indicated that they have referred the matter to their chief traffic officer for action.”
Many readers, however, took exception to the newspaper's publishing the photo and caption, accusing the Zoutpansberger of poor journalism. They pointed out that the tent was erected for a funeral and that the family had obtained all the necessary permissions and permits to close the road from the municipality. They also urged the Zoutpansberger to rather do a thorough investigation in future before publishing such photos and causing the family more trauma.
It was, however, never the intention of the Zoutpansberger to cause the bereaved family more pain. The newspaper’s decision to publish the photo was merely to highlight an ongoing problem in town – that of people's illegally closing access roads.
In response to the Facebook storm, the Zoutpansberger committed itself to following up on one family member’s Facebook post that all permits and permissions had been obtained, despite the Makhado Municipality's indicating that no such permission had been given.
Knowing that permission to completely block off an access road cannot be given under any circumstances, the Zoutpansberger asked for an official response from the Makhado Municipality on Monday to confirm whether or not any permission had in fact been given to erect the tent across the road.
Again, the answer was “No” as confirmed by municipal spokesperson Mr Louis Bobodi. He added that their Department of Community Services had only become aware of the road's being blocked after the Zoutpansberger’s enquiry last week.
In an effort to avoid future unhappiness regarding the illegal pitching of tents across access roads, Bobodi also supplied the newspaper with a summary of the procedure to follow when applying for road closures as per the municipal by-laws.
It must, however, be stated categorically that, in accordance with the municipal by-laws, no tent or any physical structure may be erected across a street, with the exception of a barrier tape and/or appropriate road traffic sign to warn other road users.
Residents may, however, apply to the Department of Community Services for a temporary road closure for a particular period of time for the purpose of parking cars. Acknowledgement of receipt of application will be given within three working days, after which permission will be granted in principle and in accordance with the council-delegated powers of the municipal manager for the closing of the particular street, subject to the following conditions:
* The applicant consults with the neighbouring houses (within a radius of 500m) and obtain permission in the form of signatures and/or stamps;
* The applicant’s event arrangement shall take place only along a particular street, and shall not disturb the free flow of both vehicular and pedestrian traffic on the street and the sidewalk;
* The applicants must ensure that there is no littering around the place during and after the event;
* The applicant uses their loud hailer or music to the possible lowest volume to avoid noise pollution (<85db) in terms of council’s by-laws and/or the disturbance of public peace;
* The applicant does not cause havoc or a fracas or take part in any havoc or fracas or argument whilst the funeral arrangement is progressing;
* The applicant exonerates the municipality from any lawsuit which might arise or emanate from the event arrangements for a particular period of days and time;
* Should the municipality receive any complaint in violation of any of these conditions and/or any legislation or by-law relevant to this from any households within a radius of at least 500 meters from the actually location of event or any other person with material facts, the municipality can retract or revoke the permission given;
* The applicant must publicize the closing of the said streets in the local media, both electronic and print, as well as on the official notice boards around the municipal area; and
* No claim whatsoever shall be laid against the council arising from your promotion in any manner.
Above extract supplied by the Makhado Municipality reaffirms the importance of the rule of law to prevent unpleasantness as experienced by many, especially comments directed against the Zoutpansberger. Sadly, many people who reacted on Facebook opted rather to play the race card regarding the reportage (see the newspaper’s official comment on page 4). It must again be stated that it was not the intention of the newspaper to cause the family further pain. The newspaper twice informed the family member on Facebook that they were willing to meet with the family to discuss the issues. At the time of our going to press, the family had yet to respond to the invitation.
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The tent that was pitched across Rietbok Street last week sparked a huge furore after the Zoutpansberger published a photo of the tent on its Facebook page, stating that no permission had been granted to do so.
Andries joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in April 1993 as a darkroom assistant. Within a couple of months he moved over to the production side of the newspaper and eventually doubled as a reporter. In 1995 he left the newspaper group and travelled overseas for a couple of months. In 1996, Andries rejoined the Zoutpansberger as a reporter. In August 2002, he was appointed as News Editor of the Zoutpansberger, a position he holds until today.