Chaotic scenes as Nompumelelo residents block N2
PROTESTERS wreaked havoc with early morning traffic on the N2 and on main roads in Beacon Bay yesterday morning.
At issue is the apparent failure to electrify shacks in Nompumelelo township.
One demonstrator was injured when he was hit by a car, said police.
About 500 demonstrators spilled on the N2 and into Beacon Bay. They blocked the N2 and Bonza Bay Road with burning tyres, branches, logs, bricks and stones, bringing the journeys of hundreds coming from Gonubie, East London and further afield to a standstill.
East London police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Hazel Mqala said a pedestrian was knocked over and injured on the N2 when the police arrived. The crowd ran and the man was hit by a car.
The Dispatch was on the scene and saw demonstrators taking stones out of the cuttings and from the roadside to dump on the N2.
Down at the N6 near the Abbotsford Christian Centre, protesters were seen putting down bricks and dragging logs across the road.
They scattered when three motorists drove towards them. Some demonstrators turned, picked up stones and threw them at the cars. Police appeared and the protesters ran for cover in the bushes.
On the N2, anxious motorists, on spotting the massive backed-up traffic, made U-turns and drove on the grass and the wrong side of the road to escape.
By 7.10am, the N2 was clear of debris but traffic was backed up from Gonubie exchange through to the NEX at Nahoon River.
Protesting residents have vowed to continue blocking roads until Buffalo City Metro (BCM) mayor Xola Pakati addresses them.
Yesterday afternoon the Dispatch saw a large crowd of residents marching inside the township.
Police were out in numbers. Rubber bullets were fired at the crowd, which threw stones at police.
Township streets were blockaded and black smoke belched from burning tyres.
Residents said they were frustrated with their ward 15 councillor, whom they claimed had instructed BCM workers not to install electricity in shack areas.
Siyabonga Ngxanga said they lived in shacks with illegal electricity connections. “The councillor does not do anything. He has been our councillor for 10 years. We want them to begin with phase two of building our houses but we are always told about government processes.”
Residents were finally called to an open area to listen to BCM official Sinethemba Mashalaba, who told them that the council would meet with them this morning.
“Your demands and grievances have been heard.
“Our head of department in the electricity department has been having some meetings with local leaders,” said Mashalaba.
“We know you want to hold a meeting with the mayor and we would like to have some community leaders at that meeting who will come back to give a full report.”
The Sanco chairman in the ward, Patrick Soenies, said: “We have been having lengthy discussions with the municipality at various meetings and now the residents are fed up.”
Resident Vusumzi Zehani said: “We buy meat and we can’t put it in any refrigerators because we do not have electricity and the loss is not felt by our mayor.
“This community is neglected. There is a total lack of service delivery and we do not want to speak to BCM officials. We, the people, want to speak directly to the mayor.”
Provincial education department spokesman Malibongwe Mtima said examinations were not affected by the protests.
BCM spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya said a rapid response team was dispatched to Nompumelelo yesterday to have a meeting with community leaders to understand the nature of the grievance and find a solution.
“Our traffic and law enforcement agencies are also assisting the police in ensuring that order is restored.”