Violent protest rocks public park and townships
Durban - Disorder erupted at a public park near Tehuis hostel in Umlazi on Monday after the eThekwini land invasion unit demolished shacks that had been erected by land grabbers.
The owners of the shacks disrupted traffic flow on Mangosuthu Highway. They burnt waste and debris on the road, stopping vehicles as they demanded that the unit halt the demolition. Motorists driving in and out of the township had a difficult time and some had to find alternative routes before police could restore calm.
Umlazi police had their hands full as there was further trouble in Prince Mcwayizeni Road, where Zimeleni and Malandeni informal settlement residents held a service protest.
Tehuis land grabber Mzukisi Sapo, 28, whose structure was demolished, said most of the people who invaded the land had been staying at the Tehuis hostel and Glebelands hostel. Some had been renting private homes.
“I was tired of being squashed in a hostel room and that is the reason I chose to join the people invading this park,” he said.
Sapo said they were not prepared to surrender and after every demolition, they would reconstruct their shacks.
Ward councillor Robert Mzobe said they had on many occasions warned that seizing land was illegal.
“We have repeatedly tried talking sense to the people who want to invade the park. We do not know what to say to them any more. We have also heard grievances from the people in Prince Mcwayizeni Road who were protesting and we have plans to build houses for them,” he said.
“People must understand that development will not happen at once for everyone.”
The head of the parks, recreation and culture unit, Thembinkosi Ngcobo, said they would not let people build shacks in the park.
“If they continue breaking the law we will have them arrested.”
At Mandeni, in Zululand, 120 people were arrested and police continue to search for more after violent protests that caused havoc in the area on Sunday night and on Monday.
Police spokesman Thulani Zwane said four factories, a truck, two vehicles and five containers were set alight. The protesters also damaged police cars. Eight computers were taken at one of the factory offices and two were later recovered.
Mandeni Local Municipality mayor Siphesihle Zulu said there were two issues believed to have caused the protests.
“First, the community has rejected an ANC candidate who is contesting the local government elections, and, secondly, the chief is said to have appointed his own induna instead of the one favoured by the people. These were not addressed to me and it was the first time I got to know about them,” he said.
On Monday the whole of Mandeni was at a standstill and no public transport had access to the area as the situation remained volatile. Schoolchildren and workers were turned back. Firms closed and sent home workers who had already started work.
Zulu said that tomorrow they would address the community to restore order.
“The 120 suspects were arrested and charged for public violence; arson and malicious damage to property were opened for investigation. More arrests are expected as the police are still monitoring and defusing the crowd. More manpower has been deployed,” said Zwane.@sphengubane