Cops fire rubber bullets to break up Hopewell protest

2013-05-22 00:00

FRUSTRATED residents of Hopewell, 20 km south of Pietermaritzburg, fled yesterday as police dispersed their illegal protest with rubber bullets and teargas.

Schools in ward three were closed for the day as protesters blockaded the main road with rocks and burning tyres in a service delivery protest. The protest began at about 3 am yesterday.

Teachers, unable to get to their schools, parked their vehicles about 500 metres from the blockade while police removed the rocks and tyres. They turned back, realising they would not get to work on time.

Residents of an old-age home also became victims of the protest action when they were affected by the teargas.

Domestic worker Nokuthula Mdlalose said she waited more than four hours for a taxi to get to work.

“I could lose the whole day’s pay because of this,” she said.

Police reopened the road at 9 am.

Taxi rank manager Mlu Zondi said the blockade meant that taxis lost half the day’s business.

Khaye Mkhize, a local resident, said the community was concerned that the Richmond Municipality was sidelining their councillor, Msizi Magubane, an independent.

“We see development in other wards, but they sideline this ward because it’s led by an independent candidate,” said Mkhize.

Magubane would only say that the community believed he was being treated as a secondary councillor.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan said officers monitoring the action were pelted with stones.

“Police warned the crowd to disperse and were forced to fire rubber bullets and use teargas to disperse them after they did not respond. No one was injured during the incident.”

“No arrests were made.”

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