Violent protest erupts in Bekkersdal

Protesters are demanding that the Westonaria Municipality be placed under administration.

Public order police arrived in Bekkersdal after residents embarked on a violent protest on 6 March 2015. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Another violent protest erupted in the Bekkersdal township, where youths vandalised the local municipal office and looted a local shop, after a failed march to the Westonaria Municipality headquarters.

A tense standoff between police and the protesting Bekkersdal youths was underway on Friday afternoon.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at school pupils, who made up the majority of people taking part in the demonstration.

After stripping the local municipality offices of its copper cabling, youths turned their attention to the local shops, owned by a Pakistani man, and threw food and cleaning supplies to a gathering crowd. They'd gained access through the roof.

Police then fired a tear gas canister to disperse them but small groups of people were still loitering around the area.

The young people continued to throw rocks at the police.

The residents association's Paseka Ndevu said they were not behind the violence.

"We as the leadership, we don't condone any act of violence. We've been trying to calm the situation; all we wanted was a peaceful march for today that was interdicted."

_WATCH : _ Bekkersdal youth vandalising municipal offices.

#Bekkersdal WATCH: Bekkersdal youth break down the wall at local municipal offices after a failed march. GW

The march was organised by local residents association, but an interdict was obtained by the mayor last night.

However, on Friday morning a group of young people demonstrated outside the local office after blocking several roads in the township with rubble.

A small group of police officers with one armoured vehicle had their hands full with around 200 protesters trying to enforce a shut-down in Bekkersdal.

At least five people were taken into custody.

The local municipal offices were being vandalised with windows being broken, doors being removed and copper cables being stripped by the protesters.

Picture: Police fire a tear gas canister to disperse crowd in front of the shops.

This is a result of a failed march to Westonaria, where they demand that the municipality be placed under administration.

The situation appears to be calming down as police reinforcements arrived on the scene.

Picture: Another group is seen trying to force open the security gate at this spaza shop to begin looting.

Last year, a series of violent protests took place in the township for a few months.

Residents were calling for their local leaders to be sacked over alleged corruption.

And ahead of elections, Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) tents near the West Rand's taxi rank were burned down by a large group of young people who started demonstrating after a community meeting, prompting police and the army to intervene.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)