Pretoria – Police in Pretoria said at least four vehicles were set alight on Thursday morning when residents of Gomora informal settlement, west of the city, embarked on a violent service delivery protest.
"In the early hours of this morning, residents of Gomora squatter camp embarked on a service delivery protest. They blocked Van Der Hoff Road with burning tyres and stones," said Tshwane west SA Police Service spokesperson, Constable Tumisang Moloto.
"We received information that four vehicles, including a truck, had been set alight. No one has been arrested yet, but we have deployed our public order police to monitor and to assess the situation. We are also increasing the police presence in the area to prevent any violent activities."
As the situation became calmer, Moloto said police officers had managed to speak to some of the protesters, in a bid to ascertain the grievances which sparked the violence.
The Gomora residents are demanding that Gauteng MEC for Housing Paul Mashatile or Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga address them.
The informal settlement residents have been on the rampage since around midnight, burning electricity poles, blocking off roads with logs and tyres, and setting off several fires.
Some residents of Hercules, adjacent to the informal settlement, complained that the protesters were throwing stones into their yards, smashing windows and tearing down electric fencing.
“I have been standing out here since 2am. They were here to do damage. Look, we don’t have electricity now because they set fire to the pole. They have pulled down my electric wire,” said one home owner who asked not to be identified.
Before 10am, more police vehicles arrived at the scene. Public order police officers had fired several rubber bullets into the crowd, and also used teargas. A small police aircraft was hovering over the protests.