More police, Nyalas for Ermelo

2011-02-16 15:36

National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele said more manpower and crime-fighting tools have been dispatched to quell the on-going unrest in Wesselton township near Ermelo.

Cele arrived in the area around lunchtime and he went on a tour of the township accompanied by Mpumalanga safety and security MEC Vusi Shongwe and Mpumalanga provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Thulani Ntombela.

The commissioner also met some community members who complained about police heavy-handedness and demanded to see President Jacob Zuma.“We now have 160 personnel on the ground. Also, we have sent more Nyalas and water cannons,” Cele said.

A total of 140 community members have been arrested and 60 of them have been granted bail.

Cele said a man in his 40s, who may assist the police to get to the bottom of the riots, was arrested by Johannesburg police. He declined to explain further.

He also announced that some community members had fired live bullets at the police and they returned fire, but no one was injured.

“We need to avoid such situations where live ammunition has to be used. We regret that one person died but we’re waiting for postmortem result to indicate to us what killed him. One policeman is also injured in hospital,” Cele said.

Cele told community members who claimed that their complaints of being attacked by police were rejected at the local police station to approach the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD).

Some residents were assaulted in their homes. Six-year-old Silindile Maseko was shot in the ear.“Where there are running battles, people run to houses and we have to pursue them there. They should not run to houses where there is a six-year-old,” Cele said.

Cele could not be drawn into commenting about the nature of the protests – whether they were politically-motivated or based on poor service delivery.

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