Parkwood rent office damaged after protesters run amok
Plumes of smoke engulfed the area on Sunday as violent protests flared, with residents demanding housing from the City.
Law enforcement inspector, Wayne Dyason said officers were deployed to the area on Saturday afternoon when residents had put up illegal structures and pegs on a public open space.
“(On Saturday) a group of people invaded a public open space by putting up pegs and structures in what was supposed to be a peaceful protest.
“The City informed them of the illegality of the action, but they said they would remove the pegs and structures as soon as the memorandum was handed over. Residents reneged on the agreement and more people moved in overnight,” Dyason said.
The City’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit moved into the area yesterday to remove the pegs and structures - an action met with violent reactions.
Ward councillor William Akim’s home was under threat when protesters marched to his home in Heath Road on Saturday.
“I received a memorandum from the organisations on Saturday morning and we were given three days to respond to the demands set out in the memorandum. Protesters went to my house and burnt tyres in front of my home, but by that time law enforcement had already made sure my family and I were protected,” Akim said.
Dyason said: “Petrol bombs were thrown and officers were also stoned. The local ward councillor was also removed from his property by law enforcement and placed under their protection as a precaution.”
A 15-year-old boy was injured when he was hit in his mouth by a rubber bullet on Sunday.
“A boy was struck in the mouth by a projectile after officers reacted to being stoned and pelted with golf balls. He was taken to hospital accompanied by his aunt for treatment. The incident will be investigated,” Dyason said.
Grassy Park CPF chairperson Fuad Titus said the action on Sunday followed a peaceful protest, adding that gangsters had formed part of the protest on Sunday.
“What happened on Saturday was a peaceful landmarking exercise which was probably not intended to become as violent as it did. The gang element has now become involved. This is now ultimately a criminal act,” he said.
Parkwood Backyard Dwellers’ Association chairperson Dominic Booysen said their housing plight had fallen on deaf ears for many years.
“People want housing and we took land. On Saturday everything was peaceful, but when we woke up (yesterday) all forces were out in numbers. We tried to avoid bringing it to this point, but the City has failed us,” he said.
The Department of Human Settlements condemned the protests.
Spokesperson for the department Ntomboxolo Makoba-Somdaka said MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela had met with leaders yesterday.
“While we respect the people’s right to protest, violence and destruction cannot be tolerated. Madikizela received a memorandum of grievances from Akim,” she said.
Makoba-Somdaka said Madikizela engaged the leadership of the area and it was agreed that a meeting to help find solutions for Parkwood be held tomorrow.