Pretoria - Three people were shot dead during a protest by angry Tembisa residents who took to the streets over “expensive” rates and high electricity bills.
Scores of residents shut down the east rand township, blockading roads and burning tyres.
The main rate hall Rabasotho Hall was burnt to the ground with several cars.
Another satellite hall in Ethafeni was also burnt to ashes.
The first victim was allegedly shot by the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department while he was buying a cigarette at one of the shops in Makhulong.
Another one was visiting a friend next to his house when he was caught in the cross fire after police opened fire.
It is not yet clear what happened to the third victim who died in Emthambeka section.
A community leader, known as G-17, told Pretoria News he suspected there were more people who died during the protests, accusing the police of targeting them.
“These people have come here to kill us. They have not come to keep control. The man they killed in Rabasotho was inside the yard. He was not even part of the crowd. So why was he shot?...You can see from his wounds that he was shot with a shotgun. Why do they use live ammunition to disperse crowds?”
This was a peaceful protest until Mayor Tanya Campbell gave shooting orders. Now the residents have set the Rabasotho Municipal Offices on fire. #EnoughIsEnough #tembisashutdown #Tembisa pic.twitter.com/mehrOT1uPl— ❤Thobile_Mk👑 (@Bosskween_hair) August 1, 2022
G-17 vowed the residents would continue with the protests until their demands were met and Ekurhuleni mayor Tania Campbell met them.
He accused the DA-led coalition with the EFF of cancelling free electricity and free water.
Sizwe Dlamini, a 58-year-old Tembisa resident, said he could no longer afford to buy electricity because of the high tariffs.
“This has gone on for far too long. Last time I paid about R800 monthly. Just last week I had to pay R1 800. That just does not make sense. It's daylight robbery and we have had enough.”
The Tembisa Community Forum distanced itself from the shutdown, saying the protests were unplanned.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) was in Tembisa investigating the deaths.
Ekurhuleni Mayor, Tania Campbell called for calm to be immediately restored. She said such acts of arson and vandalism to public infrastructure will not be tolerated.
She said last week she delegated five members of the mayoral committee to engage residents on the memorandum they had submitted, however that meeting unfortunately collapsed and failed to reach any resolutions.
She appealed to the residents to remain safe and trust in the law enforcement officers to restore law and order.