Johannesburg - A fire engine was destroyed when protesters pelted it with stones before setting it alight next to the Mzimhlophe hostel in Soweto, causing millions of rand in damage and injuring a fireman.
The fire engine was travelling along the Soweto highway after dousing a fire in Meadowlands when hostel dwellers protesting against electricity interruptions surrounded it on Wednesday night, said Johannesburg Emergency Management spokesman Robert Mulaudzi.
“The protesters started stoning the fire engine and the firemen ran out of the vehicle… one fireman was stoned and injured,” Mulaudzi said.
The injured fireman was transported to the Milpark hospital for treatment and later released.
As the firemen ran to safety, residents stole whatever they could from the fire engine.
Then they set it ablaze, destroying it and causing millions of rand worth of damage.
Mulaudzi said hardly anything could be recovered from it.
“The problem is, if there’s ever a fire at the hostel, it would be Diepkloof EMS who would respond to the call… the same Diepkloof EMS who were attacked on Wednesday night.
“It is just a nasty incident,” he said.
Calm has since been restored to the area, but on Thursday morning, reminders of Wednesday night’s violent protest could still be seen.
Early-morning commuters and motorists had to manoeuvre their way past large rocks, stones, pieces of broken concrete and other debris strewn across the streets.
This caused major traffic backlogs.
Despite this, the roads remained open.
Children could be seen walking to school and Joburg metro police department (JMPD) officers were stationed at the scene.
Resident Cynthia Mubva told The Star residents took to the streets to protest against the lack of electricity in the township throughout the day on Wednesday.
“For the last few weeks, the lights go off for days at a time.
“Last week, I didn’t have electricity for two full days… in the middle of winter,” she said.
These sentiments were echoed by Ntsike Ntombe, another resident fed up with the lights going off.
She claims the electricity disruption is due to a cable problem.
“Because we don’t pay for electricity, when we have a problem, we aren’t taken seriously. No one comes to check it out,” Ntombe said.
Eskom was unavailable for comment.