Ladysmith - Twenty-four people were taken into custody on public violence charges after they staged a protest outside a northern KwaZulu-Natal town, blockading a main road and pelting police cars with stones.
More than 700 people gathered on the R103 road between Ladysmith and Colenso, protesting about the lack of water supply to Roosboom, a settlement 13km outside Ladysmith.
Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, said that at about 10pm on Sunday, groups of residents began their protest action.
They demonstrated through the night, setting fire to tyres, branches and wooden pallets all over the main transport route.
“The R103 road was blocked by burning tyres, rubble, rocks, concrete pipes, road signs and metal grandstands that were dragged off a nearby sports field.
“Traffic was re-routed from Colenso via Ezakheni. The groups are allegedly protesting the lack of service delivery. They were monitored by Ladysmith SAPS and the Newcastle Public Order Policing Unit.”
Zwane said one of the groups of protesters had pelted police with stones on Monday morning, and that 24 people had been arrested for public violence.
“The blockade is still going on, with several groups of protesters spread out over the 2km blockade. Police are monitoring the situation. About 700 people are estimated to be involved in the blockade,” he said on Monday afternoon.
Meanwhile, residents took to the Roosboom area’s Facebook page to vent their frustrations.
Oscar Nkosi said: “I hope (the municipality) is happy about what is happening at Roosboom because all that is happening is because of them. I just wish the people were protesting for the removal of all the deadwood (there) because those people are busy playing politics instead of focusing on residents.”
Another resident posted via the same forum: “I like this. How long should people continue to suffer? What is the problem? We need answers.”
Nontobeko MaMhayise Ngele added: “The people want water now. The councillor must make a plan or there will be more to come.”
Another resident said: “There’s been no water (direct to our homes) since 2005.”
Bongie Mazibuko, also of Roosboom, said: “It’s just so painful. Just on Monday I had to buy some (water).”
Last week, residents of the same area staged a protest march to the Ladysmith Town Hall to draw attention to the lack of services.
Despite numerous attempts, the Daily News was unable to secure comment from the relevant area councillor.