Cops fire rubber bullets in Noordgesig stand-off

Police shot rubber bullets at protesters in Noordgesig, near Soweto, on Friday, the National Association for the Advancement of Affected People (NAAAP) said.

“Police started shooting and residents responded by throwing stones,” NAAAP founder Mark Trimble said. “There is a stand-off between police and the community. There is a lot of tension and it’s difficult to calm the community,” he said.

Police spokesperson Captain Katlego Mogale confirmed rubber bullets had been fired at protesters.

She said the public order police, Orlando police and metro police were on the scene and had managed to calm the situation. They were continuing to patrol the area, she said.

Trying to calm the situation
Trimble said the NAAAP was trying to calm the situation.

Protesters were waiting to hear from the City of Johannesburg as there were rumours that the electricity — the lack of which formed part of their complaints — had been reconnected.

“We are waiting to hear from the city. We heard the power is on but we think it’s only because of Albertina Sisulu’s memorial that it’s happening,” Trimble said.

“They’re probably doing this to ease the protest but then we’ll wake up tomorrow and the power will be off again.”

The NAAAP was formed in 2004 and convened in 2006.

Trimble said the organisation believed that all South Africans had been affected by bad service delivery for too long.

He said the NAAAP had been working with the government and offering solutions.

“We have been working with government for free but the problem is they don’t listen to the people … Service delivery has been government’s biggest gripe,” he said.

On Thursday, the NAAAP accused police of assaulting and shooting at protesters.

Trimble said those injured were planning to lay charges against the police.

Mogale said: “If that’s the route they want to take, then they must take it.”

Residents of Noordgesig protested on Wednesday after spending two days without electricity. They were joined by residents from Newclare, Westbury, Riverlea and Eldorado Park.

City Power reconnected the power following the protest, but it went off again shortly after that.

The protesters also used the opportunity to demonstrate against frequent water shortages, poor service delivery, lack of housing and inflated billing by the City of Johannesburg.

City spokesperson Gabu Tugwana said it had committed to work with all the communities to quickly resolve the problems. “The people of these communities need to ensure that there is no damage to the electrical infrastructure. There wouldn’t be a need to switch off the power to repair it then.” — Sapa

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