One protester died and another was critically injured after being run over by a father trying to desperately get away from rioters attacking him and his son during a service delivery protest in Durban on Thursday.
About 500 residents of the Puntans Hill informal settlement started protesting at around 3am because the municipality removed illegal electricity connections earlier this week.
A man had been electrocuted trying to reconnect the wires, further adding to the tension, and after a meeting last night, residents decided to protest.
Police sources said protesters targeted motorists in Alpine Road, stopping cars, smashing windows and trying to force people out of their vehicles.
The source said a motorist, who was travelling with his son, was forced to stop.
“The motorist was surrounded and his son was pulled out of the car and beaten by the mob.
“The motorist tried to protect his son and drove off, knocking over two of the protesters. Police found the beaten and bloodied boy lying in the centre median of the road.
One protester died. The other and the son were taken to hospital. Both were said to have been badly hurt.
Clive Brookes, whose sons Travis and Mitchell tried to assist a family which was being attacked, said that the area was a “no-go” zone.
“People are burning tyres and blocking the roads with them – the car of the other family was damaged really badly.
“Their windows were shattered and they were dragged out and beaten. All were bleeding and injured,” he said.
Metro police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Eugene Msomi, said police received reports of two protesters being hit by motor vehicles during the violence.
Two people were injured after their car was attacked by protesters, he said.
“They are all receiving treatment at various hospitals.
“Of course, we are still investigating, but we believe we have arrested the ringleader,” Msomi said.
Sthembiso Mpanza, the chairman of the Puntans Hill informal settlement, was arrested on public violence-related charges. Another two people were arrested.
Police from the Public Order Policing Unit were called out to remove tyres, refuse and other obstacles that had been placed across all the lanes of uMngeni Road at the intersection of Quarry Road East at 4am.
Mpanza, who spoke before he was arrested, said the protest was meant to be a peaceful one.
He said the community became enraged when protesters were run over.
“We were only trying to get the message across to the mayor, head of the housing department and head of the electricity department, that we need service delivery, as promised. We are not fighting our local councillor. We are fighting the people in charge of the departments who continue to give us empty promises.” - Daily News