South Africa: Rain Might Thwart Alex Protests, but JMPD Remains Ready

Service delivery protests in Alexandra.

It remains unclear whether protests planned by residents of Alexandra would go ahead on Monday morning as heave rains continue to pour down in Johannesburg.

Last week residents of Alexandra, citing service delivery issues, took to the streets of the township. They called on Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba to address them, News24 reported.

News24 reported on Wednesday that angry residents blocked roads leading into the area with rubble, burning tyres and rocks as they led the #AlexShutDown demonstrations.

Mashaba sent member of his mayoral committee, Michael Sun to address the irate residents on Wednesday. The community, however, ridiculed and booed him, drowning out his speech with songs. Some hurled racist insults at Sun. Eventually, he was forced to leave the volatile area.

The Johannesburg mayor has indicated that he will visit the area on April 15.

During Friday's mass meeting, speaker after speaker vowed that barricading and burning tyres in the streets of Alexandra had yielded no results.

They have indicated that the protest will continue in neighbouring Sandton on Monday.

Heavy rains

But heavy rains started pouring down on Sunday night and continued on Monday morning.

JMPD spokesperson, Wayne Minnaar, said on Monday morning that the metro police and SAPS remained on standby.

'[The protesters] said they wanted to go to the offices of the regional director which is in the Sandton area, so Grayston Drive is likely to be affected," Minnaar said in an interview on eNCA.

Minnaar said the specific time of the protests action could not be determined as it was not considered a "formal" protest. "For us as law enforcement it's a case of wait-and-see," Minnaar said.

Minnaar told News24 "a huge contingent of officers are already on duty; it's not a formal protest so time and route is not specific".

"There was a change of shift at 06:00 [on Monday morning] until 18:00, so we have a lot of officers on duty."

According to Minnaar, "anything is possible", even though the march was planned to be peaceful with no violence or burning of tyres planned.

"We got an undertaking from the organisers that it would be peaceful. We are calling on motorists to cooperate as our officers assist the marchers and on the people participating in the protest to adhere to the requests from the organisers. I'm sure everything will go down well," Minnaar said.

Protest action is expected to begin at 07:00. EWN reported that marchers were gathered and ready to go ahead with protest action.

News24

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