One dead in violent march

2010-12-01 00:00

ONE person was killed and 18 others were arrested when a protest march turned violent in uMzinto on Monday.

About 50 people had gathered at the uMzinto municipal grounds to march on the ANC-managed municipal offices to hand over a memorandum listing their concerns over electricity cut-offs.

Permission was granted for the march to take place between 10 am and noon.

At 10 am, before the march began, the SA Police Force explained the conditions of the march to the assembled protesters.

The police advised businesses in the area to close for 15 minutes while the march made its way through the streets of the town.

According to an official police report, trouble started early in the march when the protesters strayed from the area they were allowed to march in and blocked both lanes of the road, bringing traffic to a halt.

Police officers intervened and a lane was opened up.

The marchers arrived at the municipal offices at about 11:30am only to find the doors locked.

By noon the leaders of the march had established that there was nobody to receive the memorandum.

As the protesters became increasingly angry, the police gave them one hour to disperse.

When the hour was up, the police again instructed the protesters to disperse within a further 15 minutes.

Some of the protesters started gathering bricks, stones and pipes. After several stones were thrown at the police officers and vehicles, the unit shot two stun grenades over the crowd.

The protesters turned riotous and the police shot at the crowd with rubber bullets.

The police report notes that the rioters attacked civilians, burnt tyres, portable toilets and garbage, and brought construction work to a halt.

The report also noted that the protesters looted several businesses at 1.35 pm.

Three policemen were injured and vehicles and property were damaged.

The name of the dead person has not been released.

A team of municipal delegates finally received memorandum at 3 pm and the protesters dispersed about an hour later.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Zandra Wiid said, “We are awaiting a postmortem to determine how the person was killed …this was a very unfortunate turn of events.”

The 18 protesters who were arrested appeared in court yesterday.

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