More rubber bullets fired as Alexandra residents vow to intensify protests

Demonstrators have been locked in running battles with police for much of Wednesday, with community members saying they’ll keep Alexandra on lockdown.

Debris burns in Alexandra during a service delivery protest on 3 April 2019. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG – A fresh round of rubber bullets has been fired at protesters as police try to clear blocked roads in Alexandra.

Demonstrators have been locked in running battles with police for much of Wednesday, with community members saying they’ll keep Alexandra on lockdown.

They’re demanding action against rampant crime and after years of promises, they want services delivered.

Late on Wednesday afternoon, police tried to clear the rubble from the road to allow motorists on East Bank Road to gain entry into the township.

Retaliation from protesters was met with a wave of rubber bullets unleashed indiscriminately on the crowd.

While many managed to get away, it’s unclear at this stage whether any of the people caught in the firing line have been injured.

WATCH: #AlexTotalShutdown: Residents fed up with illegal structures

FOREIGN NATIONAL SYMPATHISE WITH SA CITIZENS

Meanwhile, foreign nationals living in Alexandra say while they live in fear, they understand the viewpoints of South Africans.

With two arrests made so far and countless tyres set alight, protesters have vowed to return to the streets until their demands are met.

Wednesday’s service delivery protests have been underscored by slurs that can easily be considered xenophobic.

Several protesters said they want an end to the illegal construction of houses across the township, which they alleged are being occupied by foreign nationals.

The housing issues in the region are no secret, with residents known to storm people's homes in an attempt to evict people who they say are not South African.

Mbutho Mncube, who's a Zimbabwean living Alex, said while he undertood where residents were coming from, he didn’t buy what he calls “lip service” from authorities.

“These guys don’t care about foreign nationals, they only care about the votes at the end of the day. So, whatever promises they make, from my experience, is just one big ruse.”

With protesters vowing to continue their demonstration, Public Service MMC Michel Sun has given an assurance that they will be addressed by Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba.

It remains to be seen when that will happen.

POLITICAL LEADERS FUELING XENOPHOBIA?

Political leaders have come under fire again for fueling perceptions that migrants are part of the problem with service delivery as protests continue in Alexandra.

Some protestors said migrants are allowed to occupy municipal houses while others build without permits.

Lawyers for Human Rights said campaigning for elections had fueled the wrong perceptions and leaders had to admit that their lack of planning was to blame.

Sharon Ekambaram of the Refugee and Migrants Programme said movement of people in Africa could only increase.

"Look at what happened in Mozambique. We can't blame Mozambicans for trying to flee, being displaced because of a cyclone we can't stop movement of people especially on the African continent. We have to make sure that human rights are not disrespected."

She said with or without migrants, South Africa had to have leaders who can plan.

"I don't think policymakers are doing the policy-making; whether it's budgeting or service delivery looking at exactly the number of people in the provinces and what happens is that when they fail to provide proper services, they blame foreign nationals, this is exactly the same situation with the health system.”