Cape Town - City of Cape Town law enforcement officers with shotguns fled from a crowd of angry Marikana residents carrying rakes, hammers and stones.
For the fourth day running residents were protesting against the demolition of 100 shacks erected at the Marikana informal settlement in Philippi on Sunday.
The site, at the corner of Sheffield and Stock roads, is privately owned and has been earmarked for development.
On Wednesday, the intersection was closed off to motorists while protesters burnt tyres in the road.
City law enforcement officers fired rubber bullets at the crowd, and then left under a hail of stones.
For half an hour an increasingly angry crowd wreaked havoc in the intersection, attacking traffic lights and passing vehicles, including media vehicles and a truck carrying planks and gas tanks, smashing the windscreen and stealing the freight.
A taxi carrying people to Philippi from Bellville was also attacked, along with a city traffic vehicle.
Law enforcement officers later returned accompanied by police in two Nyalas.
Two men were arrested for public violence.
Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said law enforcement officers acted correctly by leaving the scene.
“At a certain point the operation commander has to make a decision to defuse the situation by either withdrawing staff or by escalating the force. To withdraw means they will go back to the scene with more resources and manpower.”
A Cape Argus team saw a policewoman hit in the stomach with a stone. She fell to the roadway but did not appear to be seriously injured. Smith said he had not been informed about it.
Franco Stallenberg, the driver of the Swartland Logistics truck, was injured on his left hand.
Stallenberg and his colleague Titus Swartz had driven into the area to make a delivery when they were forced out of their vehicle by protesters.
The truck’s windscreen was smashed in with a hammer, and the
keys and gas tanks were taken by the mob.
Stallenberg said: “They came running towards us, throwing stones; we could not stop. Why wasn’t this road closed? Why weren’t police here? This is our lives they were playing with.”
Asanda Maye, a passenger in the Bellville taxi, said she was awoken by a loud bang.
“I was sleeping in the taxi, so I didn’t see what was happening. I just heard the two loud bangs and those were the windows being smashed in. I’m tense now and scared.”
Residents said they were not going to let the evictions continue.
Lulekwa Joyi’s shack was demolished on Wednesday. She had moved into the area on Monday after getting tired of paying high rent. Joyi said: “I can’t afford the rent because I’m unemployed and have a 2-year-old child to take care of.
“All my materials are gone - R3 000 down the drain.”