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Genuine issues behind violent protests

Crime & Courts
Johannesburg – The issues of residents in areas like Fine Town, Ennerdale and Eldorado Park in Gauteng were raising during protests which have turned violent are genuine, government officials who met with community leaders said on Thursday.

Human Settlement Minister Lindiwe Sisulu; Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Des Van Rooyen; Gauteng MEC of Human Settlements, Paul Mashatile; Tshwane Mayor, Solly Mayor Msimanga; Johannesburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba; Tshwane Housing MMC Mandla Nkomo; and Johannesburg Housing MMC Mzobanzi Ntuli met with community representatives from some Gauteng townships engulfed in protests.

“The meeting acknowledged that the issues behind the protests were genuine and deserving a response that will give lasting solutions. Some of these problems relate to lack of housing, jobs, illegal invasion of land, communities not benefiting from tenders and heightened levels of crime,” a joint statement said.

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Protesters run for cover as police officers fire rubber bullets in the Finetown township, Johannesburg, on the third day of street protests over government services in parts of Johannesburg. Picture: Themba Hadebe/AP

“The meeting resolved to constitute a Political Committee made up of elected politicians in their capacity as Executive Authority, supported by a Technical Team made up of public service management drawn from relevant departments led by Human Settlements Director-General, Mr Mbulelo Tshangana. At community level Steering Committees will be established that will include community leadership.”

Protesters barricade a street in Finetown township, Johannesburg. Picture: Themba Hadebe/AP

The statement said that the teams would work with community structures to ensure the solutions are responsive, inclusive and involves the community. The technical team was instructed to start working from Friday.

“The meeting agreed that any intervention must be expedited and must provide visible improvements of the affected communities. The meeting also expressed its concern on the crime that clouded the genuine concerns of the various communities,” the statement read.

“The meeting agreed that both teams will convene a joint Steering Committees meeting this Sunday in Johannesburg & Tshwane on Monday. Policy issues raised by mayors will be tabled in the earliest opportunity to accommodate specific challenges faced by different cities.”

Cartridges, rocks and ash from the protests in Eldorado Park protest. Picture: Ilanit Chernick

On Monday, protest action began in Eldorado Park and Freedom Park, before Ennerdale residents joined on Tuesday. Tyres were burnt in the streets and entrances to the areas were blocked. Both Eldorado Park and Ennerdale residents are allegedly protesting because of the lack of service delivery in their areas.

On Thursday, Gauteng Traffic Police warned motorists of a possible massive strike in region G in Johannesburg South on Friday.

Spokesperson Obed Sibasa said Eldorado Park, Kliptown, Lawley, Finetown, Ennerdale, Klipsruit, Lenasia, Vlakfontein, Slovo and Freedom Park are expected to be affected according to a SMS by the organisers.

He said the strike would negatively impact traffic on the Golden highway, N1 near Grasmere toll, N12 between Lenasia and N1/N12 Mudgud interchange, Union and Main roads in Eldorado Park, R558 and R553 and James road in Ennerdale, Lawley and Finetown.

A protester holds a toy gun as other protesters barricade the street during a protest in the Finetown township. Picture: Themba Hadebe/AP

“Motorists are advised to avoid and use alternative routes as per threats and also to extra vigilant especially when its dark.

Some bus companies have suspended operations and advise commuters to use alternative transport,” Sibasa said.

“Gauteng Traffic Police strongly condenm barricading of routes and freeways,looting of shops,pelting of officers with stones and destruction of or damage to property. There is heavy Police and Traffic presence on alert and monitoring.Law enforcement agencies will continue to monitor the areas and so far more than 70 protestors have been arrested and will appear in court soon.”

Police fired rubber bullets at rioters in Finetown on Tuesday, the third day of street protests over government services in parts of Johannesburg. Picture: Themba Hadebe/AP

He said that they were ready for any “eventuality” and that criminal elements and drug lords who have “hijacked” the protest would be dealt with decisively.

“We also sending our gratitude to residents of Ennerdale who intervened by forming human barricade restraining criminals from torching Ennerdale Primary School and Faith Based Organisations who are calling or praying for calm and peace in Eldorado Park,” he said.

African News Agency

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