Protest against power cut during bitter cold
Johannesburg - Glass, stones and rubber bullets littered the corner of Pela and Butshingi streets in Dube, Soweto, on Monday morning after hostel dwellers protested against power cuts on Sunday night.
They took to the streets, causing havoc from the afternoon until about 7pm, because the electricity in the rest of Dube was on throughout the bitterly cold day on Sunday.
An FNB ATM was badly damaged while two others were rendered unusable.
However, the road was busy as usual with morning traffic as onlookers surveyed the damage.
A security guard said no money had been taken from the ATM.
“There is just no point for people to do this,” he said.
A KFC outlet, the first in Soweto, was also damaged with its windows and glass doors cracked where it was hit by stones. The inside of the store was littered with rocks and rubble. Protective glass at the paypoint was damaged.
A liquor store nearby was looted with broken beer bottles littering the pavement. The police had cordoned off the area, barring journalists from entering.
According to police spokeswoman Captain Phephi Matlou-Mteto, the protest began on Sunday afternoon and escalated as evening fell. “Several shops were looted. Two ATMs, a liquor store and a KFC were damaged by the protesting hostel dwellers,” she said.
“They were protesting because there was load shedding in the hostel area, but they could see the other side of Dube still had power,” Matlou-Mteto said. She said the police arrived just after 7pm and dispersed the protesters. “They went back into the hostel.”
A Dube hostel leader, Mlungisi Mabaso, told The Star on Monday morning that they hadn’t had power since Wednesday. He said by Sunday morning the residents had had enough and decided to protest.
One hostel resident, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of his safety, said there was a big split in the hostel over the issue.
He said when there were power cuts, some people decided to act and protest; others thought it was wrong to protest and didn’t understand the point of doing so.
An onlooker agreed. “If there is no power, why attack the place that feeds you?” she asked.
Gauteng police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said no arrests had been made.
“A case of public violence and malicious damage to property has been opened,” he said.
The situation was calm on Monday morning after electricity was restored at about 10am.