Johannesburg - Metrorail trains were grounded for two hours in Tembisa on Tuesday morning and a community member hit by a stray bullet during protests over vacant units at a local hostel.
Trains were unable to run between 5 and 7am as protesters blocked the line with branches, rocks and debris.
Cars and taxis were forced to drive on the pavement because the roads surrounding the Sethokga hostel and Oakmoor train station were also blocked.
One vendor locked himself in his home when the protest began.
“I heard a lot of noise, I could hear them breaking things and destroying the place. There was a lot of shouting and screaming. I was nervous, I’m always nervous when these things happen. What’s the point of being destructive and destroying vendors' things?” he asked, declining to give his name.
A police officer on the scene said the disputes over vacant family units in the hostel had provoked the protest.
Gauteng police spokesman Lieutenant Kay Makhubela said a community member was hit by a stray bullet in his leg.
“He sustained serious injuries and was taken to hospital.”
A case of attempted murder regarding the man and cases of public violence have been opened after hostel dwellers fired live rounds at the police.
No arrests have been made.
At 8:30am, residents were seen clearing rocks and debris.
Thabo*, one of the men clearing the roads, said they hoped to get a few rand from passing vehicles for their trouble.
“We’re coming to help clean for the (taxi) rank and for the people so they can get through.
“We don’t want all this to be in the way for the cars; it’s a good thing to do,” he said.
Ekurhuleni metro police were seen patrolling the area.
Metrorail Gauteng spokesman Tony Games told The Star the station at Oakmoor, which runs between Joburg and Pretoria, was not running for two hours because of the protest.
He said the group barricaded the train tracks with debris including branches, rocks and concrete slabs.
Games said the protest action caused significant inconvenience as one train does about 13 trips a day and transports nearly 100 000 commuters.