Roads re-open after violent Benoni protest

2012-10-17 14:50

Johannesburg - Some roads were re-opened in Wattville outside Benoni on Wednesday after they were earlier blockaded by protesters living on the outskirts of the township.

Rocks, tree trunks and tyres had been placed in the middle of the roads, preventing motorists from passing.

Parts of the Benoni CBD were left in ruins as hundreds of protesters made their way to the city's municipal offices to deliver a memorandum of grievances.

Dustbins were overturned, garbage bags torn open and cement litter bins were uprooted and thrown onto the streets by demonstrators who came from the Emandleni, Emlotheni, Harry Gwala and local hostels.

The crowds marched to the official buildings to demand houses as well as better services.

People trampled

Outside the municipal offices, several protesters hurled stones and sticks at policemen who stood cordoning off the building. Police officers retaliated with rubber bullets.

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

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

As hundreds of them started their walk back to the informal settlements, others vandalised cars and shops along their way.

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

‘Not what we planned’

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 department of housing.

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

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

"If we don't get answers, we will march again, but next time we won't even apply for the march."

The protesters said they were tired of unfulfilled promises from officials.

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

Heavy police presence

Among the marchers were children dressed in school uniforms.

Many of the protesters carried sticks, golf clubs, knobkerries and branches ripped from trees as they marched.

A police helicopter hovered and a heavy police presence was seen outside the building as well as on the streets that led to the nearby Lakeside Mall.

"We vote but get nothing in return," said protester Ludwick Mavundla.

Earlier, workers and schoolchildren were prevented from accessing or leaving the township as large rocks were placed in the middle of 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 yesterday said this would be a peaceful march.

  • sharron.forsyth - 2012-10-17 14:56

    Sounds about right. All these protests and strikes are an excuse to start riots.

      ray.priestley.79 - 2012-10-17 15:16

      It is amazing how many strikers/rioters carry golf clubs.I wonder where they come from?What handicaps do you think they have?Oh I see,they are the handicaps.

      kenpeg.dawson - 2012-10-17 15:19

      When the cANCer has their sports day and the ministers vs prisoners challange.

      john.kirkwood.9619 - 2012-10-17 15:20

      need more marika cops

  • kenpeg.dawson - 2012-10-17 14:58

    cANCer must bring back the dompas system to control the illegals and influx from rural areas into sqatter camps without the infastructure to support them.

      khethu.ndlovu.3 - 2012-10-17 15:19

      If u wish for that, vote for da.

  • Andrea - 2012-10-17 15:01

    Well if the municipal offices look anything like the traffic dept down the road, nobody will know that there was a violent uprising and damage to property. The traffic dept is evident of the complete lack of any upkeep or general maintenance. I was there some two weeks ago to renew my license and I was absolutely shocked at the state of the building, broken windows, paint peeling, etc. etc. But you dare not withhold payment!

  • tim.gordon.5011516 - 2012-10-17 15:01

    I dont support the rampage but I get where they are coming from. After all, they were told that if they voted ANC they would get houses and so on. It is not surprising that they are p*ss*ed off. Question is whether they will be suckered again come 2014.

  • hallo.daar.56 - 2012-10-17 15:10

    Benoni is like a township

      Andrea - 2012-10-17 15:34

      Really? You are ill informed, sad to see you put your IQ behind your name as well.

  • deon.louw.7505 - 2012-10-17 15:40

    "Waiting a while" might change into waiting a long time. Some municipalities waiting lists are already + 30 years.

  • steven.hart.3760 - 2012-10-17 15:45

    And yet, come the next election: VOTILA ANC, VIVA VIVA VIVA ANC VIVA

  • BigChiefPlumbPudding - 2012-10-17 15:54

    ""We vote but get nothing in return," said protester Ludwick Mavundla." Dare we say they're learning? Dare we say they are starting to see through the lies and deceit? Now if they could just learn to direct their anger at the government only, and not the property of innocent people....

  • kala.bafazi - 2012-10-17 16:03

    The most work these poeple have probably ever done was puting rocks, tree trunks and tyres in the road. Now the municipality will have less to spend on them as they will have to pay to have the mess cleaned up.

  • jan.plank.35 - 2012-10-17 16:25

    These people got what they voted for - nothing but lies. Vote for the ANC the lie deny steal cheat party and that is what you get - nothing but lies.

  • hlengiwee.mahlobo - 2012-10-17 16:25

    M a residence of wattville n °? saw °?t ol these pple dnt onli affect us bt these empty promises they make 2 pple hu live in settlements we as hous residence r olso affected hence they use our houz electricity n water n so on so wen thy fix 4 them they fix 4 us ol,shoo °? was shocked 2 c thar m? township actuali knows how 2 strike hence wattville °?s nt a very well knwn place

  • goggo.lala - 2012-10-17 16:40

    Shame give Jacob Zuma a rest.. the guy's got 20 wives and 100 kids to support and worry about. He doesn't have the energy to worry about the 20 million or so citizens living in shacks with no water and electricity! He is saving all his energy for the planning of his next mansion. Wonder what the road leading to the next mansion is going to cost?? I agree with procold 2, need more marika cops..

  • steven.m.armour - 2012-10-17 18:14

    Is this also a "peaceful" march?

  • thembie.snooks - 2012-10-17 23:59

    To be truly speaking, this strike was strictly unfair!!! They protested with unreasonable demands like wanting the actonville hostel to be renovated with running water and electricity while they are the ones who are terrorising that place!! When u look at it, its not even a place to live all because of them!! As a resident of wattville I was forced to stay at home because of the protest how will we learners survive if this goes on?? Not to mention the upcoming exams!! The truth hurts but it must be faced!! SHACKS IN SOUTH AFRICA ARE NEVER GOING TO END!! Cos when people living in shacks get houses, they fetch their aunts and uncles from the rural area to come stay in those same shacks!! Zuma can't build houses for every person in this country, there are other things that need his attention!! GOD GAVE US TWO HANDS, SO lETS USE THEM AND MEET THE PRESIDENT HALFWAY!!

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