Protesters face guns

2015-06-04 06:00

A group of residents in Marikana informal settlement block Lansdown and symphony way road with barricade and stone cars after they set alight an ANC councillor house. They demand electricity. 

Lulama Zenzile

A group of residents in Marikana informal settlement block Lansdown and symphony way road with barricade and stone cars after they set alight an ANC councillor house. They demand electricity. PHOTO: Lulama Zenzile

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The protest by Marikana Informal Squatters has now been put on hold, after it turned nasty, following clashes with their neighbours from Lower Crossroads.

The decision was taken at a meeting on Sunday after four people were killed and nine others injured due to the violent clashes.

Marikana leader Joseph Makeleni told City Vision that they had decided to halt their demonstrations after ‘thugs’ from Lower Crossroads allegedly started shooting at the protestors.

He said that the conflict began when houses in the neighbouring township were allegedly set alight by rouge elements within the protest group.

“When we went to assess the damage to those houses, we were met by gun-totting men.”

Makeleni said that it was the beginning of the end for their protest action.

“After that we were attacked and our homes were set alight and people were left dead and injured.

It is clear that this is politically engineered as they never liked us from the beginning,” he said.

On Tuesday the area was calm but tense as City Police and SAPS continued to monitor the situation.

Some residents from Marikana were evacuated and some are still living in fear.

A 31 year old father of two who did not want to be named said that the protest was hijacked by young agent provocateurs.

“They have made our lives even worse,” said the man.

“Various meetings were held by our community and there was an agreement that there would be a peaceful march but this later changed as the youths started conducting themselves violently.

As a result some people have already left this place.”

The man who works as a security guard in town says that he had sent his wife and children to live with family members outside the area since the conflict between the two neighbours begun.

“We are having sleepless nights as we fear that the people from the other side will come and shoot us. We have tried to speak with the people from Lower Crossroads and a truce was called.

It’s the young people that are the problem,” he said.

Makeleni said that the protests have been called off until peace is reached.

This heralded an end to a week of destruction, which included the torching of four municipal trucks and other vehicles at a depot in Old Crossroads, the stoning of company cars and setting alight of a vehicle belonging to community radio station Zibonele FM.

Dan Plato, provincial MEC for community safety, held a meeting in an effort to end the violence.

“Everyone needs to take responsibility for their own actions over the weekend and I commend the South African Police Service (SAPS) and Metro police for their combined efforts in stabilising the situation over the weekend and their attempts at keeping community members safe,” he said.

“The deaths needs to be investigated,” he added.

Plato said that violence and destruction were not the proper channels to address grievances.

“Though people across the country have various and very real service delivery complaints and grievances; destruction, murder and defiance of the rule of law is not the way any problems are solved.

This needs to be made intrinsically clear by all community leaders, government representatives on the ground, as well as all political parties in the run up to the local government elections next year,” he said

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