Woman killed, two cops injured in Mpumalanga protest chaos
Nelspruit - A woman died and two policemen were injured during a chaotic community protest in Mpumalanga on Friday.
During the protest at Badplaas near Barberton, six police vehicles, a traffic department vehicle, and another vehicle belonging to the provincial government were damaged, Mpumalanga SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said in a statement on Saturday.
"While police were busy controlling the situation, a woman unfortunately became a victim in this whole protest drama after a truck smashed eight stationary vehicles resulting in her being fatally [injured].
"Two police officers also sustained minor injuries after they were attacked during the protest. This despicable incident occurred yesterday, Friday 12 February 2021," he said.
"According to the reports, protesters started in the early hours of the day demanding to forcefully engage with a certain mining company in the area."
When their demands were not successful, they blockaded the roads using "rubble, including tyres, trees, and scraps".
"Police received information about this outrageous activities and while trying to calm the situation, protesters pelted stones at them, injuring the two members who were later treated for minor injuries," he said.
Police continued to "subdue the situation" and also informed motorists using the Badplaas road to use alternative routes for fear of their lives as well as the safety of their vehicles.
"However, some motorists decided to wait for the situation to clear up. In the midst of the situation, a certain truck approached the scene during the heat of the protest and police signalled its driver to stop as a result of the situation under way.
"To their dismay, the driver reportedly proceeded to drive and unfortunately crashed on eight vehicles. During the accident, a woman was seriously injured to a point where she succumbed to her injuries," Hlathi said.
Police opened a culpable homicide case against the truck driver with an additional charge of reckless and negligent driving. as well as cases of public violence and malicious damage to property regarding the damaged cars.
"The said [truck] driver was immediately arrested and is expected to appear before court soon. Police and other law enforcement agencies are continuing monitoring the situation with a view to restore order. In the meantime, police have called the community to respect the rule of law and stop their rampageous behaviour," Hlathi said.
He also called on the public to take note of the "seriousness of committing crime under the misconception that they can easily evade arrest".
"This popular belief should be treated as a myth, as police will relentlessly search for all those who were involved and bring them to book. Police indicated that no amount of grievance can afford an opportunity to any person to commit crime as these community members did under the guise that they needed an attention from the mine.
"The public is also drawn to the fact that the country is on [Covid-19] alert level 3 in terms of the disaster management regulations and their behaviour was contrary to the ethos contemplated on this level," Hlathi said.
Mpumalanga police commissioner Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma had sent a stern warning to the public and said that “those who are amused by the desire to make names for themselves in a manner which is against the ambits of the law, should be aware of the grave repercussions of a brief fame, which will be followed by a long-term incarceration".
- African News Agency (ANA)