Metro police thwart an attempt by angry community members to disrupt the launch of Kopanong intermodal facility in Soshanguve. Picture: Rapula Moatshe

Pretoria - Chaos erupted at Kopanong intermodal facility in Soshanguve when Tshwane metro police officers fired rubber bullets to disperse a group of community members trying to prevent mayor Stevens Mokgalapa from officially opening the venue.

The hostile group protested against the event because they were apparently not informed on time about the launch.

Minutes before Mokgalapa arrived the group forcefully removed some city officials from the precinct.

Protesters claimed they were not properly engaged by the office of the mayor about the event.

They vowed that the launch won't take place until all the relevant community stakeholders were properly engaged. 

Things got out of hand when one of the protesters confronted a city official, who was inside the intermodal facility.

The incident triggered some metro police to fire rubber bullets in an attempt to keep at bay the person, who wanted to attack a municipal worker.

Other protesters reacted by shouting at the metro police, saying they should rather shoot all of them.

Shots of rubber bullets were suddenly fired fast and furious by the metro police in the direction of protesters, who ran for cover.  

Some jumped over the fence surrounding the facility, fleeing from the rubber bullets. 

People outside the facility joined the fray by throwing stones at the metro police and municipal officials inside the premises.

Roads near the facility were blockaded with rocks and tree branches.

Community representative Thapelo Nampho said: "It is not like we are not allowing them to open the facility. We just want them to do things properly."

He said the community was unaware about the opening because it was not informed.

"All members of the community do not know about this thing. That is why we are saying this thing can not proceed until proper engagement has been done. 

"We want the mayor to take responsibility for all the shenanigans that are happening here."

Mokgalapa said his office followed proper procedure by informing the ward councillor about the event.

He said: "The information I got is that they are thinking we are doing this because of the elections. They forget that the government doesn't cease to exist because it is election time. 

"This is just pure hooliganism but we are resolute and we shall not be deterred. We are here to launch Kopanong together with the Mabopane intermodal facilities."

Mokgalapa eventually launched the facility amid tension and under the metro police watch.

He said the violent activity was politically motivated.

"As you can see the writing is on the wall. You can see these are poeple in ANC T-shirts. 

"It is clearly a political stance done by the ANC," Mokgalapa said.

Ward 37 councillor Sakkie Ntohla said: "I only received the invitation yesterday (Monday) at 4pm. The community doesn't know what is happening."

He said he expressed his displeasure with Mokgalapa about the late notification of the opening.

"I have said to them that let's postpone this thing, but they insisted that they are going ahead with the launch," Ntohla said.

Pretoria News