Police fire at protesting Davidsonville residents
CHAOS reigned as running battles between police and protesting Davidsonville residents in Roodepoort continued yesterday.
Burning tyres and debris blocked the streets as rubber bullets, rocks, teargas and petrol bombs were exchanged.
Residents said they were protesting over the lack of housing in the area and notifications that their homes would be cut off from water and electricity. “We will not be cut off. This is a no-cut-off zone – they can’t cut us off,” said one resident, who identified herself only as Klara.
“It’s wrong. We were protesting calmly and the police just started firing at us. We blocked the streets calmly. They aggravate us and then it gets violent.”
The residents said they want the DA ward councillor for the area, Renee Benjamin, to address them, otherwise the protest would continue and they would go to her house.
At least six people were arrested as police ran into the area after a petrol bomb was thrown at a Nyala that was trying to unblock a road.
“This will be another Marikana. Watch what will happen,” one man shouted at the police.
Some groups stood on mine dumps next to the township and pelted rocks and glass at police officers as they entered.
In a bid to force the groups of youths down from the mine dumps, the police shot rubber bullets at them.
Community leader Elton van Rensburg said it had been a peaceful service delivery protest “until (rubber bullet) rounds were fired at us”.
“People are retaliating with stones, but for the cops to go on top of the mine dumps and shoot from there is totally unacceptable. It’s like target practice,” he said.
Van Rensburg was later shot and injured in the head with a rubber bullet as police were aiming at rock throwers on the mine dumps. As the crowd pushed forward, teargas and flash bangs were used to push them down the main road road and back into the residential area. This continued until the ward councillor arrived.
Benjamin listened to the community’s grievances and reiterated that the pre-termination notices were sent out in error due to the current billing crisis. “Their concern was that they would have their water and electricity cut off, but there is a no disconnection policy for Davidsonville. This means that they cannot be terminated.”
Benjamin added that one of the issues residents are deeply concerned about is illegal dumping. She assured them that their housing concerns were being dealt with, that there was availability and she had been in meetings with the MEC for human settlements and Department of Housing.
“There are 44 on the list and I am waiting for housing to give me their names.”
The community gave Benjamin 24 hours to respond.
“We are sick and tired of this s**t. We’ve been waiting 25 years and will not wait any longer. No more empty promises,” shouted one woman.
As the crowd began to disperse, youths began throwing rocks again at police from the mine dumps. Police retaliated once more with rubber bullets The group later dispersed but vowed to resume their protest if their demands were not met.
‘We’ve waited 25 years and will wait no longer’
TEARGAS AND RUBBER BULLETS: Residents of Davidsonville in Roodepoort clash with police yesterday.