Burning tyres, glass litter Jeppestown
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Johannesburg - Disgruntled evictees caused chaos on the streets of Jeppestown in Joburg on Wednesday morning.
Motorists endured major traffic delays as several roads in the industrial area were blocked off due to a protest sparked by eviction notices served on residents living in nearby properties on Tuesday night.
Those driving along many of the main roads, including Jules Street, had to avoid burning tyres, broken glass, large rocks and litter as protesters with knobkieries and large sticks sang and danced amid a cloud of black smoke from burning tyres.
A police officer at the scene, Sergeant Mduduzi Zondo, said protesters took to the streets on Tuesday night after being informed that the dilapidated buildings they occupied had been bought by someone else.
The protesters said they had nowhere else to go and rallied the support of the men living in nearby hostels to back their cause.
Together the large groups congregated and began barricading the roads.
They also emptied municipal bins, threw the litter onto the streets and set it alight.
Although a large contingent of officers from the Joburg Metro Police Department and SAPS were on scene early on Wednesday morning, the mob was undeterred and continued marching along Wolhuter Street.
As they danced and sang along the street,
their compatriots stood on the rooftops of the dilapidated buildings they were evicted from, and acted as lookouts.
But police continued to monitor the protest and were stationed across the entire region.
They redirected traffic and urged pedestrians to avoid getting too close to the protest action.
Mike Ngobeni, a pedestrian walking past the protest, said he feared for his life.
“I can just walk past and something can be thrown at me or anyone just walking past.”
Meanwhile, in Tembisa, Ekurhuleni on Tuesday night, anger over the disconnection of illegal electricity connections resulted in the torching of a municipality building, a mobile clinic and 10 vehicles.
A clinic was stoned and partially burnt, windows of a library and two others vehicles were smashed and the customer service centre was looted of its equipment before being torched.
This happened when Winnie Mandela residents went on a rampage after the Red Ants disconnected their illegal electricity connections.
When Ekurhuleni mayor Mondli Gungubele arrived at the scene on Wednesday morning, to see the devastation for himself and address the community about issues that led to what happened, he was dismayed by what he saw.
“I am not fine at all on Wednesday morning,” he said.
Gauteng provincial police spokesman Colonel Kay Makhubela said residents blocked roads with burning tyres and went to the clinic and torched vehicles parked there, one was a mobile clinic.
Makhubela said residents also targeted foreign owned shops, looting and vandalising them.
Gungubele said during the apartheid regime, Tembisa residents had to go to Kempton Park for all their municipal queries. In the dawn of democracy, the government decided to take services closer to the people and built customer care centres in their townships with clinics and libraries next to them.
“Many people here are unemployed and do not have money to go to Kempton Park and now the one-stop centre has been burnt down… They stoned the clinic and partially burnt it, private as well as municipality vehicles were burnt too… We have done a lot in Tembisa and can still do more but we need to talk about issues,” he said.