Mbombela – Over thirty people have been arrested during violent protests in Pienaar East, outside Nelspruit, Mpumalanga police said on Monday.
“The protest has been going on for about a week now. It’s still going on. Residents are blockading roads with stones and burning tyres and pelting cars with stones,” said Captain Leonard Hlathi.
The arrested residents, including some minors, would be charged with public violence, Hlathi said, but he did not know when they would appear in court.
“The families cannot come to the police station because of the blockaded roads so we don’t actually know when they will all go to court.”
He said the Independent Complaints Directorate would also be investigating injuries of residents who were shot during the protest.
“We don’t know who shot who and with which bullets… it’s still too early to say but let me say that there have been injuries.”
Mbombela Municipality spokesperson, Joseph Ngala, said the residents were protesting over water shortages.
“There have been breakdowns at the local water stations since last week… about 260 000 people have been affected.”
He said some residents were claiming they had not had water for weeks.
Thirteen tankers had been supplying the area with water “but these couldn’t get to some of the areas today because of the blockaded roads,” Ngala said.
“We take this to mean that there is an element of criminality here… people are using these shortages as a way to pursue other agendas.”