Havoc in New Hanover as protesters attack motorists

2016-06-23 11:50
Police monitor New Hanover protesters after they had blockaded roads and stoned passing vehicles.

Police monitor New Hanover protesters after they had blockaded roads and stoned passing vehicles. (Supplied )

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Pietermaritzburg - Protest action over the nomination of an ANC councillor in New Hanover has resulted in passing vehicles being stoned, tyres being burned and roads being blockaded.

New Hanover erupted in protests on Sunday night, after complaints from the residents of Ward 2 in Umshwathi Municipality about the ANC ward councillor candidate went unheard.

A New Hanover farmer who would not be named said the unrest started in Appelsbosch and moved on to Tongaat, eventually spilling over into New Hanover.

“It has been hectic here,” said the farmer.

“The ward residents have been burning tyres, blockading the roads and the police presence has been heavy.”

He said he and other residents had heard stun grenades being fired almost nightly since Sunday.

He said another farmer had been driving when protesters began stoning his vehicle on Sunday.

“When he got out of his car to tell them to stop they started throwing stones at him and began chasing him,” he said.

The man tried to run away but was knocked down by another car trying to escape the hail of rocks, he said.

According to three farmers in New Hanover, the accident was “quite bad” with the man being rushed to ICU. His current condition is unknown.

Another farmer in New Hanover, who asked not to be named, said the protests had been localised in the ward but had started to spill out close to the farms.

“We have heard a lot of gun fire and police have been there with their stun grenades and the public order police,” he said.

“We are in the firing line.”

Umshwathi Municipality deputy mayor Siphindile Mbhele said yesterday that the Ward 2 residents were unhappy with the choice of councillor and were demanding a new candidate.

“We have tried several meetings with the residents,” she said.

“We are having another meeting on Thursday [today] where we will try to explain how ward councillors are elected and hope they will understand.”

ANC Moses Mabhida secretary Mzi Zuma said the party was aware of the unrest and had been promised a report on the situation from Umshwathi later today.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Shooz Magudulela said the protest had been continuing on and off since Sunday.

“The Shiyabazali community blockaded the Schroeders and New Greytown roads with rubble and burning tyres,” said Magudulela.

“Pietermaritzburg public order police, New Hanover and Wartburg police dispersed the unruly crowd.

“A case of public violence was opened at New Hanover police station and no arrests have been made.”

He said the protests were ongoing and police were monitoring the situation.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  protest  |  motorists

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