Woodlands riot broken up by police

2015-07-13 10:14
Members of the Public Order Policing and Tactical Response Team launch grenades of teargas and rubber bullets at protestors in Woodlands yesterday.

Members of the Public Order Policing and Tactical Response Team launch grenades of teargas and rubber bullets at protestors in Woodlands yesterday. (Amil Umraw)

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ENRAGED rioters brought Woodlands to a standstill yesterday, attacking police and community members with large rocks on Otto’s Bluff Road.

A group of about 100 people from a nearby informal settlement barricaded Otto’s Bluff Road next to Northway Mall with large concrete blocks, small trees and burning tyres.

They then strategically positioned themselves on the railway bridge over the road and hurled large stones at motorists, police and community members in the area.

It is believed that they became angered after a man and a woman from their settlement, who are alleged drug dealers, were arrested yesterday after allegedly being found with more than 10 kg of dagga.

According to police on scene, the community lashed out at the arresting officers when they handcuffed the couple: “All hell broke lose after that,” one officer said.

The community members went on the rampage, injuring one officer on the head with a large stone. He was rushed to hospital and is said to be in a stable condition.

With Otto’s Bluff Road blocked, members of the Woodlands community had no way to get in or out of the area, and hordes of people gathered at a safe distance from the bridge, throwing insults at the rioters, who threw stones in return.

While waiting for riot police to arrive, Mountain Rise policeman Colonel Boxer Pillay approached the agitated protesters to negotiate a compromise.

The situation appeared to be improving until more stones were hurled, this time aimed at members of Pietermaritzburg’s Public Order Policing (POP) and Tactical Response Team (TRT), who arrived an hour later.

Police stormed the banks of the bridge in a fusillade of rubber bullets and bursts of tear gas, sending the rioters scattering in all directions.

Chasing down the rioters on foot and sweeping through the little informal settlement, kicking down doors and heaving suspects out of their homes, police apprehended more than a dozen of the stone-throwers.

Police spokesperson Mthokozisi Ngobese said 10 people were arrested for public violence, damage to state property and the assault of a police officer

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  protest

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