Sunday Times

West­bury, En­nerdale protests in­spire sol­i­dar­ity

- By GRAEME HOSKEN Crime · Iceland · Johannesburg · Austria · Terry Fox · Belgium

● What started out as a protest by West­bury res­i­dents over the vi­o­lent reign of crim­i­nals is mor­ph­ing into a far big­ger re­volt, with dis­af­fected coloured com­mu­ni­ties across Gaut­eng join­ing in.

By Fri­day, the Gaut­eng #Shut­down cam­paign had gained mo­men­tum, with res­i­dents of Jo­han­nes­burg’s En­nerdale sub­urb blockad­ing roads with burn­ing tyres and rub­ble, and res­i­dents of Pre­to­ria’s Eer­sterus threat­en­ing to join in sol­i­dar­ity.

Four months ago Eer­sterus was rav­aged by four days of vi­o­lent protests over crime, drug gangs and un­em­ploy­ment. The vi­o­lence left one per­son dead and scores in­jured.

Ear­lier this week thou­sands of im­pov­er­ished West­bury res­i­dents clashed with po­lice af­ter Heather Petersen was shot dead in the cross­fire be­tween two ri­val gangs. Her niece was wounded in the shoot­ing.

The com­mu­ni­ties which are threat­en­ing to join the cam­paign are wracked by high lev­els of gang-re­lated crime, poverty and un­em­ploy­ment. Or­gan­is­ers are call­ing on peo­ple to stay away from work.

Po­lice across the prov­ince are on standby over fears that the vi­o­lence could spread.

At­tor­ney Stan­ley Malematja of The Right to Protest Project, based at Wits Cen­tre for Ap­plied Le­gal Stud­ies, said com­mu­ni­ties such as those protest­ing felt dis­en­fran­chised and aban­doned by the gov­ern­ment.

“When the po­lice min­is­ter vis­ited West­bury, other coloured com­mu­ni­ties were bound to join in the #Shut­down protest. Coloured com­mu­ni­ties have felt that for too long they have been left out of the coun­try’s growth, em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and the right to safety and se­cu­rity.”

Malematja said it was no co­in­ci­dence that anger was be­ing ex­pressed in all of these com­mu­ni­ties. “They try the peace­ful route, but are al­most al­ways ig­nored by of­fi­cials.”

Ri­cardo Terry, Eer­sterus Ac­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion chair­man, said they felt sol­i­dar­ity with West­bury and En­nerdale res­i­dents.

“We will be meet­ing with the Gaut­eng Shut­down com­mit­tee to dis­cuss the way for­ward. Four months ago we had run­ning street bat­tles with the po­lice in which a res­i­dent was killed and oth­ers in­jured. We have re­peat­edly tried to raise our con­cerns over the lack of proper polic­ing, un­em­ploy­ment and poor ser­vice de­liv­ery, but to no avail. We had no choice but to protest.”

Po­lice ar­rested eight peo­ple for mur­der and drug-re­lated charges on Fri­day.

Four were ar­rested for the mur­der of 31year-old Bradley Saul, who was killed in July. Saul had been ac­cused of killing the son of one of the ar­rested sus­pects.

 ?? Pic­ture: Alaister Rus­sel ?? Res­i­dents blocked roads in En­nerdale, south of Jo­han­nes­burg, on Fri­day.
Pic­ture: Alaister Rus­sel Res­i­dents blocked roads in En­nerdale, south of Jo­han­nes­burg, on Fri­day.

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