Benoni protest turns violent

2012-10-17 13:27
Some of the 500 people who took part in the march on Wednesday. (Firoz Salajee, MyNews24)

Some of the 500 people who took part in the march on Wednesday. (Firoz Salajee, MyNews24)

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Johannesburg - A service delivery protest outside the municipal buildings in Benoni turned violent on Wednesday.

Several protesters hurled stones and sticks at police who stood cordoning off the building.

Police officers also fired rubber bullets.

Around 20 people were injured. Some were trampled on as those in front turned and tried to flee.

A few of the alleged instigators of violence were arrested and taken away in police vehicles and the crowds then dispersed.

Several cars damaged

As hundreds of them started their walk back to the informal settlements on the outskirts of Wattville, some protesters vandalised cars and shops along the way.

"I can't believe they did this," said one motorist who came out of shop to find his passenger window broken.

A Sapa reporter on the scene counted at least five badly damaged cars.

A man identified as the protest leader, Ezekial Mtungwa, walked behind the crowds.

"I am disappointed in them. This was not what we had planned," he said.
"I have told the police to take charge."

Mtungwa was part of a delegation that went into the offices to speak to officials from the housing department.

"We wanted answers... People have been waiting for houses for a while and instead, money is disappearing and nothing is being done," he added.

Children also in protest

They delivered a memorandum of understanding to the officials and said they were expecting a response within 14 days.

Hundreds of protesters from Emandleni, Emlotheni, Harry Gwala, and local hostels took part in the protest march, which started earlier in the morning.

"Until when will we live in shacks," read some of their placards.

Among the crowd were also children dressed in school uniforms.

Many of the protesters carried sticks, golf clubs, and knobkerries.

Taxis not operating

A police helicopter hovered above while several police vehicles cordoned off entrances. "We vote, but get nothing in return," said protester Ludwick Mavundla.

Meanwhile, workers and schoolchildren were prevented from going to or leaving the township, as large rocks were placed in the middle of the streets at the exits.

Taxis were also not operating.

"We don't know why they are including us in this," said a resident who identified herself as Sarah.

A letter circulated around the township on Tuesday informed residents this would be a peaceful march.

Are you there? Send us your eyewitness accounts
- SAPA
Read more on:    johannesburg  |  protests  |  housing
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