Protest turns violent

Residents of Zenzele informal settlement in Daveyton, Ekurhuleni, were woken in the middle of the night by the sound of vuvuzelas.

A resident, who asked not to be named, said they had met the day before and agreed to hold protests to demand electricity from the Ekurhuleni metro municipality.

By 2am hundreds of residents had gathered. They started burning tyres and placing huge rocks across the road.

The protestors also made it difficult for anyone to leave the area. Several hundred people took part in the early morning protest that later turned violent.

The protestors pelted police with stones and the police fired back with rubber bullets.

A resident who did not take part in the protest, Jacob Ngwane, said he was going to work when he was stopped by protesters.

Ngwane said: “I support their demands because even when you are allocated an RDP house it does not have electricity and areas that were built later have it, but what if I lose my job? My family cannot eat electricity.”

Some young children of school-going age were also involved in the protests with their parents.

Another resident complained about being woken up in the middle of the night.

“You do not even see who is knocking at the door. What if the thugs return tomorrow at the same time?” she asked.

By mid morning dozens of armed policemen had swooped on the area. They fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

A youth leader in the community, Kenneth Maduma, said the residents were promised electricity from the newly built power station in the area.

“Now that the power station is built they are telling us to wait for another power station that will be upgraded,” he said.

Maduma said a week before the local government elections a councillor came and promised them that electricity would be installed on June 1 if they voted for the ANC.

He said they would not stop protesting until the member of the mayoral committee for water and energy, Aubrey Nxumalo, gave them a date of installation they agreed on.

Other demands made by the residents included the closure of holes that were left by a construction company at the beginning of the year and the repair of streets so police and ambulances could access the area.

Ekurhuleni spokesperson Justice Mohale said the residents had to be patient because the municipality was busy with development in the area.

“We are developing a stand while the person lives in it. You cannot put in electricity while installing toilets and streets – electricity will come later,” he said.

Mohale said the municiplaity would not tolerate disorder and eight people were arrested for stoning cars.

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