This followed a series of incidents which led to vigilante attacks in which four people were killed earlier in the week and four houses belonging to suspects torched on Friday.
About 600 residents of Marikana, Philippi Lower, Thabo Mbeki, Lloyd and Plaza marched on the Philippi East police station yesterday morning to demand the release of residents who had been arrested.
Violent clashes erupted, during which a police officer was allegedly taken to hospital after being hit on the head by a stone.
Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd and arrested four people aged between 20 and 40 on charges of public violence. But a few hours later, the crowd regrouped at an open field and marched back to the police station to demand the release of four residents, as well as those arrested on Friday night.
The residents told stories of how they lived in fear of criminals while police allegedly ignored their pleas for safety. “We want Minister Mbalula to come up with a solution; he can either deploy more police officers or work together with Correctional Services to ask for reinforcements by soldiers.
“We need them to conduct a clean-up operation of the criminals and guns or either shut down this police station as they have failed us,” the protesters demanded. It was the second such march time this year.
One of the leaders, Xolani Tukwayo said the residents could not be blamed for suspecting that guns and bulletproof vests, allegedly stolen from police stations, found their way into the areas and were being used by criminals on residents.
A delegation of 12 leaders met the station commander to discuss the residents’ demands and concerns. After about 90 minutes, the station commander emerged to tell the crowd that those arrested could not be released, which incensed the protesters.
By late last night, the police were still monitoring the situation. The police have confirmed that they are investigating a case of public violence.