Masiphumelele up in arms over arrests
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Cape Town - Police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse a large crowd of Masiphumelel residents who blockaded Kommetije Road with burning tyres and rocks on Tuesday morning.
They had gathered to protest against the arrest of seven men in connection with the vigilante-type murder of one man and the wounding of another.
The seven men were arrested after allegedly beating and shooting one man to death and then beating and burning another, leaving him seriously injured earlier this month. They appeared in court last week and were not released on bail. However, reports said they were released this morning.
Kommetije Road was covered with burning tyres, old mattresses, battered wheelbarrows and stones and rocks this morning, blocking traffic.
Hundreds of angry residents kept on singing and shouting under the watchful eye of a strong police presence.
Police fired tear gas, stun-grenades and what appeared to be rubber bullets at the residents after they refused to disperse, causing some people to splash water on their faces in a desperate attempt to get rid of the gas.
Resident Vuyo Bushula said the community was angry after the arrests. “Our people were arrested for no reason last week and haven’t been been released. They weren’t arrested at the scene of what happened, but (at) their homes.”
He said after a meeting on Monday, the whole community decided to protest this morning. Bushula said they had lost confidence on the police.
“We chased out some drug dealers from the community and even told the police where to find them, but they came back and sold drugs again.”
Another resident, Zuzeka Mbokothwane, said they would not stop protesting until the arrested men were released. “We are not going anywhere until they bring our people back. They have arrested innocent people, and some of them are still going to school.”
After a 10-minute warning to disperse, the police took drastic action, and several people were arrested.
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said at about 5.30am, about 100 residents from Maisphumelele staged a protest, blocking off Kommetjie Road by erecting barricades, burning tyres and throwing stones.
He said police and the fire department were immediately dispatched to the scene.
He said the situation had been contained and no serious injuries reported.
However, the situation still appeared to be tense by mid-morning
Tension mounted between police and Masiphumelele residents on Friday over the arrest of seven men in connection with the “mob violence murder” – the third murder in less than a week.
Police intensified their focus on Masiphumelele last week, with officers at the entrance to the informal settlement on Friday in an attempt to prevent further vigilante attacks.