Alex residents hesitant to talk

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ss Alex one7.1 Independent Newspapers Police do a search in Alexander after chaos erupted in the township. They were protesting for marked EFF ballots that were found dumped in Alexander and were asking for a recount of votes. Picture: Paballo Thekiso

Johannesburg - Alexandra residents said they feared for their lives after post-election protests broke out in the Johannesburg township.

On Saturday morning, most people approached by a Sapa reporter were hesitant to talk, saying they did not want to endanger their lives.

Most claimed not to have witnessed any violence and only woke up to see barricaded streets.

Remains of burned tyres were seen, and on Sixth Avenue, rocks placed in the road slowed people trying to drive through.

Two men sitting outside the hostel described those involved in the protests as “dangerous men”, but would not elaborate.

Another man, a small shop owner, who was initially hesitant to speak, told a Sapa reporter the protests were bad for business.

“I did not make money on Friday because my shop was closed. I was even unable to pay the lady who helps me when I am at work during the day.”

The streets became quiet after police and soldiers were deployed to the township, he said.

“If people are scared to come outside, business become slow.”

Police vehicles were seen driving up and down most streets in the township on Saturday.

A man swept and removed debris from the front of his house with a wheelbarrow.

His house was opposite the Post Office building where the temporary Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) offices were based during the national and provincial elections.

The man said he did not know what the protest was about because there were many stories circulating regarding the elections.

He spoke on condition of anonymity, because he feared the protesters would burn his house down.

“Some say the ANC threw away EFF and IFP ballot papers. That's the story going around,” he said.

He said no one was attacked in the area but protesters targeted the building.

“Yesterday there was a lot of action further up. A lot of police were going around. I also heard some gun shots. Maybe foreigners were attacked there.”

Rubber bullets and stun grenades were fired on Friday afternoon to disperse protesters who were demanding the release of those arrested during another protest on Thursday.

Police said dozens of people were arrested on public violence charges on Friday evening.

“The security forces are maintaining a visible presence in Alexandra,” Lt-Gen Solomon Makgale said.

On Wednesday night, Gauteng African National Congress members were apparently held hostage by Inkatha Freedom Party supporters who reportedly saw ballot papers in an ANC vehicle.

But the police denied there had been a “hostage situation” and calm seemed to return to the township around midday on Thursday.

But then on Thursday night, the IEC office was set alight and more protests took place on Friday night, with the Gauteng premier announcing the army had been deployed to Alexandra.

EFF Gauteng leader Dali Mpofu denied an accusation by the ANC that his party brought in protesters into Alexandra.

“We do not condone violence... and of course they would single out the EFF out of all parties involved,” Mpofu said. - Sapa



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