Chaotic scenes as Nom­pumelelo res­i­dents block N2

Daily Dispatch - - Front Page - By BHONGO JA­COB

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.”

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