Orange Farm protesters block highway

Published Apr 25, 2016

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Johannesburg - A section of the Golden Highway near Orange Farm, south of Joburg, was again closed off on Monday morning due to protest action.

From the early hours, residents barricaded the road with large rocks and burning tyres, sending clouds of black smoke billowing into the air and leaving motorists frustrated.

The enraged crowd also pelted vehicles on the busy stretch of road with stones.

A large contingent of SAPS and JMPD officers arrived on the scene and turned motorists away from the affected section of the highway.

Monday morning's protest is believed to be a continuation of action taken by residents earlier this month to demand better service delivery.

They were unhappy about large piles of uncollected rubbish, a lack of paved roads, sanitation, electricity and housing.

Protest action at the time turned violent, with police firing rubber bullets in an effort to disperse the rowdy crowd, who in turn pelted the officers with stones.

JMPD spokesperson Senior Superintendent Wayne Minnaar told The Star that rubber bullets had also been fired at protesters who congregated at the nearby N1 highway on Monday morning.

They had been throwing stones at passing motorists.

No injuries were reported on Monday morning and no arrests had been made by time of publication.

Other affected roads included the R28 Randfontein Road and both sides of the N1 in Orange Farm, where cars were forced to make U-turns as burning tyres and debris blocked the roads.

Spokesperson for the City of Joburg Virgil James told The Star on Monday morning that they were dealing with service delivery issues in the area.

“We’re in talks with the ward councillors and the city will address the problems but it can’t all be done overnight; some of the problems are province-related as well.

“The city is not shirking its duties - the minute the residents don’t hear what they want it gets violent.”

“They are not being ignored, the idea here is to provide services for people and it must be noted that we are spending money in the underdeveloped areas, so that we have fewer protests,” James said.

He added that despite the City of Joburg having a decent budget, the money needed to be spread around and couldn't just be focused on one area.

“We are asking, please, for people to have patience - we cannot meet all demands all at once.”

The Joburg metro police department was on the scene to keep an eye on the situation and to help with crowd control.

The city said it had been informed on about Orange Farm residents' plan to take to the streets on Monday morning.

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