PO­LICE FIRE RUB­BER BUL­LETS TO DIS­PERSE STONE-THROW­ING PROTESTORS ON R67

Talk of the Town - - Front Page - JON HOUZET

PO­LICE re­sponded to a burn­ing bar­ri­cade protest at the Thorn­hill four-way in­ter­sec­tion on the R67 last Thurs­day af­ter­noon, firing rub­ber bul­lets at a crowd of protestors af­ter a po­lice van was stoned.

A hand­ful of po­lice in riot gear pushed about 50 stone-throw­ing protestors away from the R67 to al­low the Nd­lambe fire de­part­ment to douse the burn­ing tyres and branches and re­move the de­bris from the R67, which in­cluded rocks and smashed bot­tles.

At the Wharf Street in­ter­sec­tion with the R67, po­lice blocked the road for traf­fic safety with the as­sis­tance of Mul­tiSe­cu­rity and Crash Tow­ing.

Mean­while, protestors lit an­other fiery bar­ri­cade in Joe Slovo Road near Kuyasa Com­bined School. Po­lice at the scene said the protest seemed to be about the Port Al­fred dump.

The R67 was opened to traf­fic again af­ter about an hour, but later that evening an alert was sent out that it was again blocked by burn­ing bar­ri­cades.

Ear­lier that af­ter­noon, TotT also re­ceived a call that ac­cess roads to the dump in Ne­mato had also been blocked with rocks, con­crete and burn­ing de­bris.

On Fri­day af­ter­noon, TotT saw that the de­bris was still par­tially block­ing some roads.

Po­lice spokes­woman Cap­tain Mali Goven­der said the protestors had ini­tially gath­ered in Thambo Street last Thurs­day, ex­press­ing frus­tra­tion that a dead­line given to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity with re­gards to jobs and prob­lems in their ward had passed with no re­sults.

“Po­lice re­sponded and found that the group had moved to the mu­nic­i­pal dump­site next to Ne­mato. There the group waited to be ad­dressed by the mayor and be­came un­happy when they did not re­ceive the an­swers they wanted,” she said.

“The group then started block­ing the road and also burnt the guard house at the dump­site. A case of ar­son was opened. No sus­pects iden­ti­fied as yet.”

Goven­der said when the group moved to the R67 and blocked it with burn­ing tyres and branches, pass­ing mo­torists’ ve­hi­cles were also stoned.

“A case of dam­age to in­fra­struc­ture and hin­der­ing the flow of traf­fic was opened,” she said. No ar­rests had been made.

Goven­der said on Fri­day, a small group of mostly women blocked the Thambo Street in­ter­sec­tion in Ne­mato once again.

A mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil­lor showed up and asked res­i­dents to give the mu­nic­i­pal­ity un­til July 15 to pro­vide an­swers re­gard­ing un­em­ploy­ment.

Mu­nic­i­pal spokesman Ce­cil Mbolekwa said the com­mu­nity had raised con­cerns about un­em­ploy­ment, the haz­ardous tip, crime in the area, elec­tric­ity, rub­bish re­moval, the un­avail­abil­ity of the coun­cil­lor, an in­ac­ces­si­ble road, and non-func­tional ward com­mit­tees.

He said the mu­nic­i­pal man­ager and other of­fi­cials had first ad­dressed com­mu­nity mem­bers on June 7.

“The Disemba Sol­wan­dle Road has been grav­elled, which was part of their griev­ances,” Mbolekwa said.

“The is­sue of elec­tric­ity has also been at­tended to – the elec­tric­ity fit­tings have been or­dered and will be in­stalled once they are avail­able,” Mbolekwa said..

“With re­gard to em­ploy­ment, the di­rec­tor of cor­po­rate ser­vices ex­plained to them how peo­ple are em­ployed in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and the use of the data­base.”

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity was cur­rently in­volved in a pro­gramme for the dump­site, he said.

Pic­ture: BRYAN SMITH

STONES AND RUB­BER BUL­LETS: Po­lice push back riot­ers from Ne­mato who stoned cars and blocked the R67 last Thurs­day. The protest was about the mu­nic­i­pal­ity miss­ing a dead­line to at­tend to a num­ber of griev­ances about un­em­ploy­ment and ser­vice de­liv­ery

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