Johannesburg - A Lindhaven family were forced to take cover inside a locked bathroom when angry residents of Princess informal settlement, west of Joburg, stormed their home.
A woman, who was with her toddlers at the time, was able to contact a local police sector number for help.
This happened on Saturday night when residents who had taken to the streets to protest against poor service delivery turned on residents of flats and houses across the street from their settlement.
The woman has left her house for safety. A police Nyala was seen outside her ransacked home on Monday. The windows had been pelted. It is also alleged that her belongings, including furniture and other goods, were taken from the house during the protest.
Also affected were residents of Greenshank Villas, a residential complex opposite the informal settlement. Residents were forced to flee their homes and occupy their landlord’s empty flats after their homes were pelted by the protesters.
The week-long protest started last Tuesday when residents began protesting against poor service delivery and demanding houses.
A community leader, who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation, said: “Those who stole in these house are opportunists and criminals.
“We saw them. They are aware that the community wants to apprehend them, but they fled. Only thugs behave in such a manner, not human beings,” said the leader.
The man said they protested in the evening to avoid police patrolling the area. It was during those protests that some protesters went on a rampage, ransacking nearby properties. “When police are around we cannot protest. We want to show the government our dissatisfaction around this issue,” he added.
A resident at Greenshank Villas said they sympathised with residents of the informal settlement, but said their actions were unacceptable.
“We understand they want better service delivery. But they cannot do it like this, not at night and not by leaving people stressed or feeling unsafe in their homes,” said the man.
Meanwhile, the protesters have vowed not to vote in this year’s elections. “We don’t want any IEC (Independent Electoral Commission) people coming into the area until the government has answered us,” said resident Tsholofelo Binang.
On Monday morning, residents regrouped on the main road to discuss a way forward. They voiced their anger at what they labelled police brutality after police allegedly fired rubber bullets at them during the protest.
Also furious at police were Somali businessmen who claimed to have been attacked and robbed by cops who conducted a search in the area on Monday. Said Mohammed Djama said: “They accused me of supporting the people (protesters), that we are together in this and stayed together in the area.”
He claimed police took R2 000 worth of airtime vouchers, R500 in cash and two cooldrinks, which they drank in his presence.
It is alleged police also stormed Temesgen Huro’s Tuck-shop and took R3 000 in cash. His employee was allegedly beaten by the officers during the search.
Police spokeswoman Colonel Katlego Mogale confirmed that a search operation was conducted earlier on Monday. She said that police made a few arrests.
“They will appear in the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court facing charges of possession of suspected stolen property, illegal immigration, possession of dagga and operating a tavern without a licence,” she said.