13 July 2018

South Africa: Police Battle Violent Protests Across the Country

A scourge of protests kept South African police officers busy in three provinces - the Northern Cape, Western Cape and Gauteng.

The situation in Kimberley remains volatile since a service delivery protest flared up on Thursday, police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Mashay Gamaldien said.

Additional law enforcement officers were required to assist in managing the unrest, which led to looting and property damage.

A peaceful march to the municipal buildings turned violent when Sol Plaatje Municipality Mayor Mangaliso Matika addressed the crowd from inside the building.

News24's sister publication Netwerk24 reported that protesters were dissatisfied when a R1.2m contract was awarded to an unknown service provider to send SMSes to residents in relation to electricity issues. It is alleged that the tender was not advertised.

People were also protesting against poor service delivery and high tariffs.

The number of arrest made is unclear however, Captain Olebogeng Tawana said five people were arrested for public violence and business robbery.

In Gauteng, protesters used rocks and burning tyres to barricade the N14 and the R55, affecting traffic in both directions.

Tshwane Metro Police Department spokesperson Isaac Mahamba said all the N12 exits at Olievenhoutbosch in Centurion were also blocked.

"The information that we have at this stage is that they received notices that they are going to be evicted for occupying RDP houses illegally."

"They are protesting against that because they don't want to be evicted," Mahamba said.

In the Western Cape, residents in Zwelihle, Hermanus were up in arms since the arrest of community leader Gcobani Ndzongana on Tuesday.

The protest entered its fourth day on Friday and law enforcement officers continued to battle protesters, who armed themselves with rocks and corrugated iron sheets.

Nineteen people were arrested for public violence, provincial police spokesperson Captain FC Van Wyk said.

Zwelihle Renewal spokesperson Theron Mqhu said that the situation in the community was still tense.

"The community is adamant about the release of our members that were arrested on Tuesday. It is still going to remain a shutdown," he said.

"With every action from the police, there will be a reaction."

On Thursday, protesters set the Gugulethu Fire Station in Cape Town alight, forcing firefighters to vacate the premises.

Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson Theo Layne said firefighters had to remain in the drill yard until metro police and law enforcement officers dispersed the protesters.

The front of the station had sustained severe damage, including the watch room, engine bay doors and the security entrance gate.

Van Wyk said that the protest was related to a lack of water and electricity supply in the area.

He added that the situation became calm and that cases of public violence had been registered for investigation.

Protesting for housing

GroundUp reported that residents in Pietermaritzburg also took to the streets over housing. They barricaded roads leading to Copesville on Wednesday with burning tyres and rubble.

Taxis were stopped from operating on the main road and protesters burnt three electricity transformers, leaving sections of Haniville, Swapo and Copesville without electricity.

On Monday, hundreds of residents occupied vacant land owned by the Msunduzi municipality. The municipality said the land was earmarked for a housing project, which was expected to be built next year.

Source: News24

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