Durban - Violent protestors attacked the police and firefighters with stones when they tried to stop them from setting alight a government building in Mayville on Thursday.
Protestors from the nearby Cato Manor area set alight offices utilized by the KZN Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) in Buro Crescent.
Captain Nqobile Gwala, a KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson, said the incident occurred just before midnight on Wednesday when community members allegedly from Cato Crest and Cato Manor embarked in a protest action blockading King Cethshwayo (Jan Smuts) Highway and Vusi Mzimela (Bellair) Road, with burning tyres, logs and stones.
"They burned a government structure situated at Buro Crescent. When the firefighters were busy trying to extinguish the fire, they were attacked with stones. They also threw stones at the police officers. None of the officers or firefighters was injured," Gwala said.
A case of arson is being investigated by Mayville SAPS. The officers were also petrol bombed on Tuesday with minimal damages to one of the offices.
The Mayville offices house sections of the department’s administration and is believed to have been a random target.
The MEC for Cogta Nomusa Dube-Ncube expressed her shock and condemnation of the barbaric act labelling it a heinous act which has undermined the foundation of our democracy which is rule of law.
"The perpetrators burnt the offices to the ground. Reasons for this barbaric act are unknown but are believed to be related to a public protest by informal settlement dwellers and land invaders due to governments crack down on lawlessness," she said.
Dube-Ncube said it was a direct sabotage of the state infrastructure which ends up having dire consequences on innocent residents who rely on government services such as the ones provided by Cogta.
"We are calling upon law enforcement agencies to leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of the perpetrators of this dastardly deed. This attack poses a serious threat to the safety of our staff members who have already gone through a lot. The very same offices, in November, were robbed by a group of armed gunmen who removed several television screens and computers from the building. The gunmen also hijacked a KZN Cogta employee’s vehicle which was later recovered in Newlands,"Dube-Ncube said.
She has called upon surrounding communities to come forward with any information that can lead to the apprehension of the suspects in this case.