The death of a six-year-old girl allegedly run over by a truck has triggered one the most violent service-delivery protest to hit the West Rand.
The Tudor Shaft informal settlement in Kagiso, west of Johannesburg, resembled a warzone yesterday.
Residents set tyres on fire and threw stones at the police who responded with a hail of rubber bullets.
The violence broke out on Monday night after two school children, a girl and a boy, were run down by a truck on the busy main road next to the informal settlement as they made their way home .
The girl died on the scene; the boy was rushed to Leratong Hospital with serious injuries.
Soon after, 600 residents took to the streets to demand that the Mogale City municipality construct speed humps on the road to reduce the accident rate.
The residents also bemoaned the lack of electricity, sanitation and access to drinkable water.
Resident Pinky Qunta said the people became incensed when the municipality’s mayor, said to be on sick leave, failed to meet them.
Qunta said their local councillor told them she did not know if there was sufficient money in the budget to meet the residents’ demands, and that budgetary allocations were decided at a higher municipal level.
“She was generally rude to residents when addressing them, and this made the protesters more angry,” Qunta said.
When municipal officials failed to calm the residents, some people in the crowd attempted to vandalise municipal property.
The police used rubber bullets and tear gas to control protesters in front of the municipal buildings, though some residents succeeded in getting into the property by breaking through a wall.
It is alleged that one municipal security guard shot at protesters with live rounds.
Police spokesman Warrant Officer Solomon Sibiya said a man in his mid-30s was injured and taken to hospital.
He said protesters tried to set one of the council buildings alight but emergency services workers were quick to extinguish what could have developed into an inferno.
“So far we have arrested about 15 troublemakers.
“We have got an Inyala [armoured police vehicle] patrolling the area.
“The situation is not exactly calm,” he said.
Sibiya also said it could not be established as yet how bad the six-year-old’s injuries were, but the boy appeared to be “stable”.
Another resident, who asked not to be named because he was a municipal employee, said sanitation was a serious concern in the area.
He said three women were raped last week after they had had to relieve themselves in the bush because of the lack of toilets .
Municipality spokesman Nkosana Zali said that there were plans to address service delivery concerns in the informal settlement, which he said has been in existence for the past eight years.
He said the immediate issue of the speed humps would be the first problem to be addressed.
Mogale City Municipality received its second consecutive qualified audit last week.
Auditor-general Terence Nombembe identified incompetent officials as one of the main issues of concern .