Newclare’s flames of fury
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Johannesburg - A man was shot dead on Monday morning during a violent service delivery protest in Newclare, western Johannesburg.
The protesters, who took to the street early on Monday morning over housing, torched and looted the Newclare train station.
A resident of the suburb, who did not want to give his name for fear of reprisals from protesters, said the protesters came from the neighbouring Kathrada Park.
He said from about 6am, the protesters blocked Hoy Street which runs parallel to the station.
“They attacked people going to work from the early hours of this morning,” he said. “It’s a service delivery protest turned sour.”
He said the crowd then started moving into the Newclare train station and some fired shots.
“Security fired back, security shot and killed one guy,” he said.
Police confirmed the death. “Yes, the man was shot by one of the security guards at the railway station. The body is still here and we are trying to remove it as some of the protest is still violent,” said police spokesman Warrant Officer Jerbes de Bruyn.
The 51-year-old man was on his way to work when he saw people running towards the station and joined them. According to his sister, he ran into a security guard.
The protesters tore down the Newclare station’s exterior fence and looted furniture, most of which was thrown on to a fire that blocked Hoy Street.
A police Nyala pushed the protesters away from the station as the crowd sang President Jacob Zuma’s signature struggle song Umshini Wami.
Just when it appeared that the situation was calm, the protesters stormed the station again, tore down a wooden pole and smashed windows with bricks.
Some protesters then used the slanted pole to scale the roof of the station, while smoke billowed out of windows.
The police then again moved in and fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd, which had started to move towards the crowd of Newclare residents who were watching the protest.
Earlier, the protesters had hurled stones at the Newclare residents, the police and journalists.
A policeman in plain clothes, but who had a riot helmet on, received huge cheers from the Newclare side of residents when he reloaded his rubber bullet shotgun and walked back towards the protesters.
A handful of Newclare residents then began throwing rocks at the protesters.
Susan Stewart, the ward councillor for the area, said she was told by residents on Monday morning that the protest was sparked by frustrations over an RDP housing project in Kathrada Park.
“This development has been incomplete since 2002,” she said.
She said the Johannesburg Mayoral Committee met just prior to the elections in May and introduced the contractors to the relevant ward councillors.
“It was my understanding, and the community’s, that construction would start fairly soon,” Stewart said.
Meanwhile, Sapa reported that protesters were stoning cars at Ennerdale, south-west Johannesburg, on Monday morning, according to the metro police.
“At Provincial and James roads in Ennerdale, there are protests. The road has been closed because there has been some stone-throwing. Motorists should use Lenasia Drive as an alternative road,” Johannesburg metro police spokesman Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said.
Reports suggested the protests were about housing issues.