Johannesburg - Rocks, burning debris and several chopped down pine trees blocked a main route to Krugersdorp on Tuesday.
Residents of an informal settlement in Muldersdrift, north-west, of Joburg, protested in anger about service delivery issues.
Although the scene was calm when police arrived, community members were adamant that their concerns be heard.
“We see the municipality as lacking ability, energy and action… this is not how we should be addressing our concerns, but it is the only way we are heard,” one community member said.
Community spokesman Louis Mqwashu said issues of service delivery had plagued their neighbourhood for what he and other community members deemed “forever”.
Despite being established in 1952, the informal settlement has no sanitation or flushing toilets, and only two taps with running water.
“We have over 12 000 people living here, two taps is not enough… We have only two municipal skips for refuse, which are emptied once a month.”
Mqwashu said this was adding to sanitation and cleanliness woes because it takes a whole day to fill them up. “They need to be cleaned more often,” he complained.
But on Tuesday, the residents protested for a separate reason. “We have families living on wetlands where water keeps coming up from the ground and into their shacks.
“Their beds and personal belongings are always wet… our children who live there are getting sick. We were promised by the ward councillor that they would be moved to another plot of land long ago and nothing has happened,” Mqwashu said.
He added that some residents living on the wetlands were given permission to build new shacks on an empty plot of land next to the settlements, but the Red Ants had arrived and dismantled them.
“The ward councillor told us that he had no problem with us erecting these shacks in another place, but then later he denied it and sent in the Red Ants,” Mqwashu said.
At a community meeting, the councillor, Molefi Sediba, explained that it was the Red Ants’ job to protect municipal land and to stop the illegal construction of shacks.
“It’s my job to ensure that they are doing their job. The community cannot build shacks wherever they want, I need to make that clear.
“I am also here to clarify to the community that we are in the first stages of purchasing land for those affected (by wetlands) and for betterment of the community,” Sediba added.