Durban - Ladysmith’s mayor narrowly avoided being pelted with stones on Monday as crowds - fed-up with the lack of service – were convinced by the police to remain calm.
The areas around the northern KwaZulu-Natal town were on Monday once again plagued by unrest as pockets of protesters – totalling more than 600 people - blockaded roads and demanded better services.
Mayor Vincent Madlala was at the scene to address the protesters’ concerns and collect their petitions, as well as a memorandum of grievances.
“I managed to respond to them and we came to a decision to meet before the end of next month so I could address their concerns with other departments and give them feedback,” he said. “There were a few stones thrown, but nobody was injured. The police spoke to the people and they stopped. I don’t think they intended to hurt me. They were just a little frustrated.”
In the early hours of on Monday, the action centred around the Burford/ Driefontien and Hobsland areas just outside the town. Police said that the protest action had been allegedly taking place owing to the lack of road maintenance, electricity provision, water supply and clinics.
“Both these areas are just outside Ladysmith and are policed by the Elandslaagte and Ladysmith SAPS. (On Monday) morning, roads leading to both areas had been barricaded with stones, rocks and burning tyres,” said provincial police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane.
In the Hobsland area there had been had about 400 protesters. In the Burford area tbere were about 200.
“Some of the protesters have thrown stones at the police. Fourteen people have since been arrested. They are aged between 13 and 42. A protester sustained an injury to his eye and is receiving medical attention.”
Zwane said that the people arrested would be facing charges of public violence.
Newcastle public order policing, the Ladysmith tactical response team, Elandslaagte and Ladysmith SAPS members were also monitoring the groups.
By on Monday afternoon, the roads had been reopened and traffic had been moving smoothly.
On July 28, 24 people were taken into custody on public violence charges after more than 700 people gathered on the R103 road between Ladysmith and Colenso, protesting about the lack of water supply to Roosboom, a small settlement 13km outside Ladysmith. Residents set fire to tyres, branches and wooden pallets all over the main transport route.