House set alight dur­ing protest ac­tion

The Mercury - - METRO - KAILENE PIL­LAY | kailene.pil­lay@inl.co.za

AN­GRY protesters set a house alight and rolled mas­sive boul­ders on to Alpine Road in Spring­field to block traf­fic in the early hours of yes­ter­day morn­ing.

More than 500 peo­ple, who live in a nearby in­for­mal set­tle­ment, took to the streets de­mand­ing proper hous­ing from the gov­ern­ment.

The house they set alight, sit­u­ated off Arnold Road, was home to peo­ple who in­vaded the premises months ear­lier.

“The fire depart­ment was called in to put out the house fire and thank­fully no-one was in­jured when the house was set alight,” said Metro po­lice spokesper­son Su­per­in­ten­dent Parb­hoo Sew­per­sad.

One of the res­i­dents, who lives near the house that was set alight, said she was awo­ken by the protests in the early hours of the morn­ing.

Sew­per­sad said Metro po­lice re­sponded to the protests that started at around 3am yes­ter­day and were forced to call for back-up from their units and the South African Po­lice Ser­vices as the crowd grew. The protest ended shortly af­ter 8am af­ter po­lice fired rub­ber bul­lets to dis­perse the vi­o­lent crowd.

By mid­day, the roads had been cleared but a strong po­lice pres­ence re­mained in the area.

Sew­per­sad said the protesters had blocked Alpine Road, be­tween Lo­tus and Hendry roads, by rolling boul­ders from the top of the hill. They also burned tyres and de­bris on the road.

Ac­cord­ing to Sew­per­sad, four peo­ple – two men and two women – were ar­rested for pub­lic vi­o­lence.

SAPS spokesper­son Colonel Them­beka Mbele said po­lice were on scene from around 3.20am and con­firmed they used rub­ber bul­lets to dis­perse the crowd.

Sew­per­sad said a man from the Depart­ment of Hu­man Set­tle­ments, who tried to speak to the protesters, had to be es­corted from the scene af­ter peo­ple threat­ened to as­sault him.

Spokesper­son for the Depart­ment of Hu­man Set­tle­ments Mbulelo Baloyi said one of the depart­ment’s plan­ners were called to the scene to speak to the protesters on the plans to build houses for them.

“The depart­ment is work­ing with the City on a way for­ward to build houses for all those liv­ing in in­for­mal set­tle­ments. Since he was un­able to speak to peo­ple at the scene, he has ar­ranged to meet with some of them (last night) to lis­ten to their griev­ances and share the de­part­ments plans on meet­ing their needs,” Baloyi said.

| BON­GANI MBATHA/African News Agency (ANA)

A house in Spring­field, Dur­ban was set alight by protesters yes­ter­day. BE­LOW: A neigh­bour sur­veys the dam­age to the home that had been oc­cu­pied by in­vaders.

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