Army deployed in Alex

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Independent Newspapers

Police do a search in Alexander on Friday after chaos erupted in the township. They were protesting for marked EFF ballots that were found dumped in Alexander and were asking for a recount of votes. Picture: Paballo Thekiso

Johannesburg -

The army and public order police were deployed in Alexandra last night as fear mounted that residents were planning additional protests.

Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane said the army had been called in.

“The provincial police commissioner, Lieutenant-General Joel Mothiba, has informed me that people in Alexandra have been attacking buildings and assaulting others… the army is moving in as we speak,” Mokonyane said on the sidelines of the Independent Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) results centre.

Deputy minister in the presidency Obed Bapela, who with ANC legal head Andries Nel arrived in the township with other high-ranking officials last night, said the group were embarking on a walkabout near the Madala hostel to assess the volatile situation.

“The police here are not trained to control this crowd. If something should happen they will not be able to handle the situation,” said Bapela.

The move was in response to earlier clashes between residents and police near the Pan African Shopping Mall, where several people were injured after police apparently used live ammunition.

The chaos in Alexandra township began when the councillor of Ward 75, Chris Mabunda, was seen holding ballot boxes in the township.

“Rumours started when I was seen holding a ballot box with police and IEC officials present. They had concluded that I had counted the papers.

The ballot box contained votes for the IFP, DA, NFP and EFF.

Bapela, meanwhile, said the incident went out of control and that police had no choice but to act swiftly.

By late last night, the situation had not yet been contained. It was thought that residents were mobilising for continuous protests throughout the night.

The township was on a knife-edge as police and protesters continued to clash.

Tyres were burnt and stones thrown at police at the corner of sixth Avenue and Alfred Nzo Street. This is near the Madala hostel and Nobuhle – an IFP stronghold.

Anxious residents and children stood on the sidelines, unable to get to their homes. A huge contingent of armed police and JMPD officers stood armed with rubber bullets and stun grenades ready to quell the situation while a helicopter hovered above.

Gauteng MPL and resident Sizakele Malobane said a group of people had gone to the Alex Magistrates Court in support of those who had been arrested after they allegedly burnt tyres and clashed with the police near Second Avenue.

On Thursday, trouble in the township began when ANC and IEC officials were held hostage after being accused of tampering with ballot papers. Allegations of vote-rigging surfaced after EFF members claimed they saw ballot papers being transported in an ANC vehicle.

It was also understood that IFP members were disgruntled after their party lost all the wards to the ANC.

Provincial police spokesman Neville Malila said the protesters thought the group of 32 people who had been arrested would appear in court. But they did not. They wanted them to be released.

* Additional reporting by Sapa

Saturday Star


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