Thursday, June 21, 2007

Die land begin Brand, weer!!!

Hierdie bring herrineringe van 1976 vir my

Protesters, cops clash in Mamelodi

June 21 2007 at 09:41AM By Graeme Hosken and Barry Bateman

Violence flared in Mamelodi on Wednesday as thousands of violent protesters took to the streets and railway lines to demonstrate over housing shortages and other service delivery problems.Barricading streets with rubble, burning tyres and street light poles, demonstrators turned entire sections of the township into no-go zones as they stoned cars, ambulances and trains, looted bread delivery trucks and torched taxis.Dozens of people were arrested for public violence offences following clashes with police throughout the day as officers battled to regain control over strategic roads and areas in the eastern section of the township rendered ungovernable by protesters.'We thought Adrian Vlok's rule was over' Protesters were seen hurling a fire bomb at a police nyala as law enforcers tried to disperse crowds from Hans Strijdom Drive and Hector Pietersen Street - a major intersection in the township.Police armed with shotguns fought running battles, firing rubber bullets at stone-throwing residents as they fought to wrest back control of a railway line bridge running over Tsamaya Road which had been taken by demonstrators. Tension escalated and subsided throughout the day as raging battles moved from place to place in the township. Nyalas raced back and forth between police bases and the flashpoints as officers went to collect extra ammunition.Several intersections were littered with blue casings from the rubber bullets used to disperse the angry crowds.A furious KB Ndlovu, whose three-year-old son Mathimbe was shot in the side with a rubber bullet, said he could not understand why police had shot his child.'The majority of the troublemakers are schoolchildren' Mathimbe was standing inside his father's shack behind a security gate when police opened fire."I was sleeping and then I heard him screaming. We were inside and the gate was locked."Why did they shoot him?" yelled Ndlovu, whose son was rushed to a local hospital for treatment.Tshwane Emergency Services paramedics who raced to the township to treat scores of injured were pelted with stones and forced to turn back.Early morning trains picking up passengers at Pienaarspoort station were also forced to turn back as rioters pelted them with stones, forcing hundreds of commuters to walk along the tracks to the next station.Community leaders Jimmy Ntuli and Lebese Jacob blamed the council for the violence."This is their doing. If councillor Absalom Ditshoke (housing MMC) had kept his promise of meeting us to discuss our concerns, none of this would have happened," Jacob said.Brandishing a council document, Jacob showed that Ditshoke had agreed to meet residents after they handed over a memorandum to him at council headquarters at Munitoria on May 28."He agreed to meet us three weeks after that meeting, but he is nowhere to be seen. We want him to address us."We want him to tell us how he is going to provide us with housing promised to us every time we vote for the government."We want him to tell us what he is doing to fire corrupt councillors selling RDP houses and stands and we want these answers now," he said.Ntuli said they had been promised a better life, but were not living it. "All we want is what was promised to us." He said they needed services not politics. "Once we have houses then we will worry about politics."We have been running from pillar to post when it comes to handing over memorandums about our housing crisis. "We are the people who voted for government. When authorities needed votes, they came running to us, but when we need housing they send the police. We thought Adrian Vlok's rule was over," he said. Resident Penny Mahlangu, who was unable to go to work because of the unrest, said none of this would have happened if corrupt councillors were rooted out by the city authorities."Corrupt councillors are to blame for this. The police can come and kill us but this will not stop until the bad councillors are taken away and residents told when they are getting houses," she said.Julia Namusi, of Mahube Valley, said they wanted permanent stands, water and electricity."Council has been promising us these things for years, but they are nowhere," she said.Danisa Maswanganyi, of Extension 11, said she was forced to join the protest. "They grabbed my handbag and burnt it while I was on my way to work. Who is going to give me my money, cellphone and ID book?" she asked.Maswanganyi was part of a group of about 200 residents who were angry at the demonstrators for the way they were protesting. "This is the wrong way to do this," she said.Sipho Gwababa said the ongoing public sector strike added to problems in the area. "The majority of the troublemakers are schoolchildren."We are aware of democracy but it has limitations. "It does not mean that people can vandalise state assets. It is all right to demonstrate, but you must go about it the correct way," he said.Police said they would maintain a heavy presence throughout Wednesday night and on Thursday to ensure peace prevailed.This article was originally published on page 3 of Pretoria News on June 21, 2007

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