House set alight during protest action
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.
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.