The troubled streets of Gauteng

Police fired rubber ­bullets at residents of Finetown, near the Grasmere Toll Plaza in Gauteng, on Thursday as waves of service delivery strikes hit the province throughout the week.

Finetown residents took to the streets on Thursday morning, throwing stones, burning tyres and strewing rubbish. By midday younger community members were still burning tyres. Residents aired their frustration to the Mail & Guardian about unfinished RDP houses and lack of feedback from government.

Spreading service delivery unrest: Timeline since February 2009

This followed a torrid week in Gauteng, which saw similar protests in Mamelodi and Bronkhorstspruit (on Monday), and Dobsonville in Soweto (on Wednesday).

On Thursday the protests escalated sharply to take in Dobsonville (again), Reiger Park and Daveyton on the East Rand, Ennerdale (Johannesburg South), Protea Glen in Soweto, Ramaphosa informal ­settlement, Atteridgeville and ­Mamelodi in Pretoria.

Residents of the Oukasie informal settlement in nearby North West also took to the streets on Tuesday.

“We are suffering here in Finetown because we live in shacks,” Gladys Mangali of Block 1 told the M&G.
“And we want proper roads.”

Fellow resident Silvia Mangali said she had lived in the township since 1993. “I live in a shack that leaks when it rains,” she said.

Councillor ‘drives a Hummer and has three houses’
Cash Mkhabele (22) finished ­matric two years ago and is still unemployed. He joined Thursday’s protests, telling the M&G: “We don’t have a library. If we’re looking for one, we have to take a taxi to ­Lenasia or Ennerdale.”

The municipality was no help, Mkhabele said.

“Our councillor doesn’t want to talk to us. He drives a Hummer and has three houses.”

Younger community members are destroying the equipment used to build what they call “box RDP houses”.

By mid-morning on Thursday five metro police cars were lined up on Impala Road in Dobsonville, Soweto, keeping a watchful eye on the area where protests had been held an hour before, as well as on Wednesday. Burnt tyres lay scattered at an intersection.

Taxi marshall Lucky Mokwena told the M&G he had watched protesters, who had taken to the streets demanding RDP houses hours earlier: “They were burning tyres and protesting for houses. They say they have been waiting since 1994.”

Angry residents—who the M&G understands were from Zola, Emdeni and Chiawelo—said they would be back the following day.

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