2 arrested, 15 others injured after 'violent protest' in Durban

2017-07-06 16:10
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Durban – Two protesters have been arrested while 15 others were injured in a "violent protest" by shack dwellers in George Hill, Sydenham, Durban on Thursday morning.

Abahlali baseMjondolo, the movement which represents shack dwellers, said they had decided to protest because the mayor of eThekwini, Zandile Gumede, had not responded to their memorandum within the seven working days that they had given her.

Abahlali had last Monday, June 26, led thousands of protesters through the streets of Durban to the City Hall to hand over their memorandum to the mayor.

They claimed she snubbed them and did not send so much as a representative from her office to take their memorandum. 

The march was sparked by the recent "repression and evictions" allegedly conducted by the eThekwini Municipality, they said.

The movement wanted an immediate end to evictions.

Abahlali's provincial executive committee member Blessing Nyuswa told News24 on Thursday that the seven-day period had lapsed on Wednesday.

"As a result, we decided to protest across the city because we haven't received the answers we anticipated from the mayor," she said.

The movement accused Gumede of sending police to repress them instead of replying to their grievances.

"Fifteen of our activists, men and women, have been seriously injured by the police. We've just come back from visiting them at King Dinizulu Hospital. Some of our members were arrested," she said.

Police assaulted protesters with their batons and fired shots at others using shotguns, she said.

"They didn't even use rubber bullets but used real bullets," Nyuswa said.

Police deny attack

The movement had said, during last week's march, that the "violent" evictions had taken place in the past few weeks in informal settlements around Durban.

They said the evictions had resulted in the death of a two-week-old baby, Jayden Khoza and Samuel Hloele. 

Mthunzi Gumede, mayoral spokesperson, said the municipality was still looking into the memorandum.

"Once we are done, we will get back to them," he said.

He denied that police were sent to attack the protesters.

"Everyone has a constitutional right to march but that doesn’t mean violate the rights of other road users. Police were there to curb them from violating the rights of motorists who use the very road," he said.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane said about 100 residents from Lacy Road informal settlements blockaded the RD Naidu Drive and Randles Road intersection with burning tyres at about 04:00.

"Two suspects were arrested for public violence. The situation is calm at the moment," Zwane said.

Zwane urged those who claimed to have been injured during the protest to come forward and open cases so that investigations can be done.

Superintendent Sibonelo Mchunu, eThekwini Metro police spokesperson, denied that their members used live ammunition during the protest.

"That's not true, Metro police always use rubber bullets to disperse crowds," he said.

Read more on:    durban  |  protests

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