7 charged over N1 protest

SEVEN protesters arrested during a service protest that blocked part of the N1 near De Doorns will be charged with public violence, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and malicious damage to property, police said.

They were expected to appear in the De Doorns Magistrate’s Court today, provincial police spokesman Captain Frederick van Wyk said last night.

Yesterday the protesters, who live in the nearby Sandhills informal settlement, complained that they were “sick and tired” of their poor living conditions.

The police said the Sandhills protesters began stoning vehicles on the N1, forcing them to temporarily close the road.

Protesters claimed police had shot at them with rubber bullets. Van Wyk confirmed this, and described the protesters as “extremely violent”.

He said that several officers were injured during the clashes yesterday – including the De Doorns station commander, who had several fingers broken.

A traffic officer’s leg was broken after rocks were thrown at him, Van Wyk said.

By yesterday afternoon, he said, the area was calm.

Resident Betty Fortuin told the Cape Argus that the people of Sandhills were suffering.

“We want water, electricity and toilets. When it’s time to vote they know us and come to shove jam in our mouths. When we need services they don’t have time for us,” she charged.

The residents threatened to block the N1 until their grievances were heard and addressed by the Breede Valley municipality.

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