Protests in Noordgesig, near Soweto, were reaching an “explosive point” on Friday, the National Association for the Advancement of Affected People (NAAAP) said.
“Residents are adamant, we are trying to calm the situation,” NAAAP founder Mark Trimble said. “Police are forming a barricade and it’s getting more heated.”
Earlier Trimble said the protest was “very peaceful”, and although tyres were burning no one was throwing stones.
However, the situation was volatile and anything could happen, he said.
Metro police and the South African Police Service (SAPS) were on the scene and the main road had been closed off.
“We hope metro and SAPS don’t start pummelling us with rubber bullets … they have no right to start shooting unless people start intimidating them,” Trimble said.
Accusations of assault
On Thursday, the NAAAP accused police of assaulting and shooting at protesters.
Trimble said those injured were planning to lay charges against the police.
Police spokesperson Captain Katlego Mogale said: “If that’s the route they want to take then they must take it.”
She said police were on the scene trying to bring the situation back to normal after the protest flared up again on Friday.
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