Violent protests intensify in Gauteng

Protesters in Hebron blocked major roads with rocks and burned tyres during service delivery protests on 7 February 2014. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN.
|
JOHANNESBURG - Service delivery protests continue to escalate around Gauteng, this time in Hebron outside Pretoria.

A kilometre stretch of the Hebron Road as it leads up to the Molefe Makinta Highway has been closed with burning tyres and debris.

Large rocks have been rolled onto the road, making it difficult to navigate.

In the distance, a crowd of demonstrators can be seen singing and dancing around burning tyres, but there is no sign of the police.

It appears schooling in the area has also been disrupted with dozens of pupils in their uniforms seen walking in the streets.

It’s understood the community is dissatisfied with how their mayor responded to a memorandum of demands submitted two weeks ago.

A man who drove past the area says traffic has been diverted away from the scene.

“Police told us we can’t go through and have barricaded the road with stones. Protesters are stoning cars and burning tyres so we didn’t get a chance to go where the actual protest is.”

'SHOOT THE POOR'

Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) leader Julius Malema says government has adopted a new policy of "shoot the poor".

As the violence continues, Malema has hit out at claims by ANC Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte that the EFF is instigating some of the protests that have hit Gauteng and other parts of the country this week.

A municipal building and satellite police station torched by angry protesters in Bronkhorstspruit. Picture: Neville Malila/SAPS

 A municipal building and satellite police station torched by angry protesters in Bronkhorstspruit. Picture: Neville Malila/SAPS

Malema says these protests show government has adopted a new policy.

“There’s a situation where this government has a new policy called kill the poor.”

He adds these protests are the fault of the ANC and government.

“The protests are a result of their laziness, corruption and lack of service delivery.”

Malema also says these protests started before the EFF was formed.

SEBOKENG AND BRONKHORSTSPRUIT

Police are working to maintain calm in Sebokeng and Bronkhorstspruit.

In Sebokeng, police say there's no violence this morning as residents have suspended their protest, but have vowed to return to the streets later today.

A man was shot dead in the area on Wednesday when rival groups of protesters clashed over territory.

Residents of Boiketlong told Eyewitness News they have proof the Gauteng provincial government lied to them when they promised they would be moved out of the informal settlement into RDP houses by 2012.

“We have lots of evidence. I mean it’s 2014 and we’re still waiting for our houses.”

Residents say they want President Jacob Zuma to intervene because local authorities have failed.

“Zuma’s administration is disappointing us.”

Residents say they are tired of empty promises and will not vote in the upcoming elections unless Zuma addresses them.

A poster advertising the voter registration drive is set alight by angry residents of Bronkhorstspruit during service delivery protests, 5 February 2014. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN.

 A poster advertising the voter registration drive is set alight by angry residents of Bronkhorstspruit during service delivery protests on 5 February 2014. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN.

Meanwhile, Gauteng Economic Development MEC Mxolisi Xayiya says what is happening in Bronkhorstspruit is rioting and has nothing to do with service delivery.

For two weeks residents have been protesting against what they call exorbitant water and electricity tariffs.

Xayiya says the violence is pure criminality.

“At this point we have riots so don’t give fancy names to things.”

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)