Prem Jugunundan, 61, the deputy principal of New Germany Primary School, said the M19 near the Reservoir Hills off-ramp had become a dangerous stretch of road to use in recent years.
Jugunundan was travelling on the M19 yesterday when he heard on the radio - and his wife, who was travelling with him, learnt via WhatsApp - that a protest was brewing on Mountbatten Drive in Reservoir Hills.
“I thought we’d pass through it because the road seemed clear, but when we were near the off-ramp, I realised there were lots of rocks, branches and stones on the road. I saw three guys and police just in front of them. I thought they were clearing the road. One of them picked up a two-metre-long branch,” Jugunundan said.
He drove at a slow pace to avoid the rocks. His wife was seated in the passenger seat.
“The man holding the branch then swung it like a baseball bat. He was aiming for the passenger window. The branch hit the car door with a great impact and crushing noise. My wife ducked and hit her head against the seat. We were frightened,” he said.
Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said the protest began at 6am, when the road was blocked with burning tyres and rubble. The protest continued throughout the day, shutting off the M19 route. Nine people were arrested for public violence and damage to infrastructure.
Sydenham police had opened a case of malicious damage to property.
People living in the Quarry Road West informal settlement were demanding houses after some of them were displaced by the floods last week.
A tent had been erected on the side of the Palmiet River, where displaced people were being put up.
Protesters had blocked off Mountbatten Drive, Quarry Road and the M19, the main route to and from Westville and Pinetown.
Ray Jeawon, Reservoir Hills Community Policing Sector spokesperson, said a team of volunteers were also attacked when they began clearing the road of rocks and trees.
Xolani Nala, the ward councillor for Reservoir Hills and Clare Estate, said the protesters wanted land to build homes. Nala said a meeting with stakeholders was being arranged.
eThekwini Municipality did not comment by the time of publication.