Johannesburg - An unfulfilled election promise sparked a protest in the south of Joburg on Monday. Police fired rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the crowd.
Residents of Ennerdale South blocked the Golden Highway at the intersection with the R550 early on Monday to protest against the lack of a sewerage system and piped water.
A protester, who gave his first name as Big for fear of reprisal, said he was struck on the knee by a rubber bullet fired by the police during what he described as a peaceful protest.
“They just opened fire without even speaking to us,” Big said.
One car’s windscreen was smashed by a rock thrown by a protester. While Big acknowledged it was thrown by one of the residents, he said the police were to blame.
The police officers left their armoured Nyalas and hid behind the car while they fired rubber bullets, and the rocks accidentally hit the car instead of the police vehicles, Big said.
He added that the other residents had met several Joburg mayoral committee members on May 5 in the build-up to the elections and were promised a temporary sewerage system because the pit toilets they were using were unsanitary.
“We went to the elections on May 7 and they never came back to us. We never got anything up till today and it’s September now,” Big said.
“We put them into power and they are not delivering,” another protester said.
Joburg’s housing MMC, Dan Bovu, arrived to address the crowd at about 10am and confirmed that the council had promised the community a temporary sewerage system.
However, he said they could not roll it out immediately as engineering, health and environmental assessments had to be done before building such a system in a residential area could begin.
“We’re still consulting with Johannesburg Water to allow and agree that we use it,” he said.
Bovu’s address to the crowd seemed to calm tension that had been created by the skirmish between the police and residents. The protesters dispersed by midday.
Earlier, at about 9am, police dispersed the crowd of about 100 protesters using rubber bullets and cleared the road for traffic.
Gauteng police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini confirmed that police dispersed the crowd using rubber bullets after being pelted with stones.
“Two Joburg metro police vehicles were pelted with stones. A policeman sustained a neck injury and was taken to hospital and two women in their late twenties were arrested for public violence,” Dlamini added.