Pretoria - More than 250 residents of Mamelodi East incensed by miscommunication and impatience over service delivery barricaded streets with debris and burnt tyres, disrupting traffic in the area for most of the day on Wednesday.
The protests stem from electricity and other basic services problems and the City of Tshwane’s decision to relocate them to Nellmapius without their consent.
Solomon Mahlangu Drive and Tsamaya Road were blockaded, preventing cars from entering or leaving the area.
Children were prevented from going to school while some residents could not go to work because the area was a no-go zone.
Putco buses in the area were also affected.
There was a heavy police and metro police presence. Police spokeswoman Constable Rosette Makgatho said no arrests were made and no cases of damage to property had been opened.
Local ANC chairman Sam Mangena said the protest was unfortunate because progress was being made and there was infrastructure for electricity in place. Just a few glitches need to be resolved.
He added that the unrest was fuelled by a few mischievous residents who were aligned with “opposition parties”.
“The development is there. The infrastructure has been set up with the poles and electricity wires already up. We just need to sort out the issue of the meters and the issue of the old electricity connections for the roll-out to occur,” Mangena said.
He said some residents needed to be moved because they were close to a railway line while others lived on flood-prone land.
“You can’t live in a danger zone. During the rainy season we will have a problem and that’s why we would like them to move to a better place,” he said.
Member of the mayoral committee for roads and transport George Matjila agreed with Mangena and added that those who were suspected of wrongdoing would be investigated.
“Appropriate action will be taken against those who are responsible for illegal acts,” he said. He pleaded with the residents to be patient. “We have a time frame and things operate within it. There is no need to protest,” he said.
Protesters said the strike began at about 7pm on Tuesday and continued through the night and into Wednesday morning.
They said the protest began after a community meeting.
One of the protesters, Edwin Ntshehi, said progress was being hamstrung by a councillor who was selling the utility poles designated for electricity. “We delivered a memorandum to the police station and want our demands met,” he said.
Ward councillor Absalom Borotho said he would be looking into the grievances to find a resolution. He denied being involved in selling utility poles, saying that the community was mistaken.