No final decision has been made on the proposed merger of the Metsimaholo and Ngwathe local municipalities in the Free State, the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) said on Friday.
"No final decision has been made on the demarcation. The community was not supposed to revolt. They were supposed to write to us and say 'we are not happy'," said MDB CEO Gabisile Gumbi-Masilela.
The proposed merger was published to enable the communities, political parties, and individuals to see that the MDB had made a decision, and to then make their contributions, she told reporters in Pretoria.
Gumbi-Masilela said people had assumed the merger had been finalised when they read about the proposal in the media.
They still had an opportunity to oppose the board's decision or to make their own proposals, she said.
On Thursday, the MDB met Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi to discuss the violent protests which led to the loss of lives and the destruction of property in Zamdela, Sasolburg, this week.
"The parties have agreed to collaborate closely within their respective mandates to ensure a concerted effort towards building an effective and efficient local government system," said MDB deputy chairwoman Nondumiso Gwayi.
Baloyi has established a demarcation process review task team to help him monitor and review the process which led to the situation in Zamdela.
Gwayi said Baloyi and the MDB had agreed to identify similar cases in other parts of the country which might show the potential for similar, violent protests.
"The board has reassured the minister that the process was in full compliance with the law and beyond reproach," she said.
The demarcation process had just started and the amalgamation of municipalities had not been finalised.
She said the board would in future try to improve public participation processes to enable communities to better understand them.
The consultation process on proposed re-demarcations started in June 2011.
A total of 1008 proposals were submitted to the MDB and these were reduced to 204 for consideration.
From January 2012 to September 2012, a period of consultation was opened. In October, the MDB had a meeting to consider the proposals and the consultations with different stakeholders.
The proposals were published in various newspapers on 9 November.
It was after this that residents of Zamdela started complaining.
Four people were killed during the protests.
Gumbi-Masilela said the MDB had received input on the proposals from communities, traditional leaders, and government departments.
This had not been processed when the Zamdela residents started protesting on Sunday, she said.
The MDB was scheduled go through the input, make a decision, and publish it in April.
Even then, the communities and other stakeholders would have a chance to lodge objections to the decisions before they were finalised.
The redetermination of municipal boundaries happens after every local government election.
South Africa started with 875 municipalities, which has since been reduced to 278 through redemarcation.