Wentworth residents blame violence at Engen on the police

Wentworth residents have told the high court in Durban that it was the police, acting on the instruction of Engen, and not them who caused the violence during a demonstration outside the petrochemical giant’s Durban refinery earlier this year.

They have also accused Engen of going to court with the cynical motive of securing an interdict not to protect its property from harm but to “silence” ongoing protests by residents.

READ MORE: Wentworth residents gain ally in battle against Engen

Frank Alexander, a community liaison officer with the South Durban Basin Community Development Trust, made these claims in papers submitted to the court in response to an interim interdict secured by the company last month.

The interim order was granted against Alexander and four other residents who had been involved in the protests over contracts, jobs and residents’ demands for a training centre and shares in the company.

Engen had said in papers that protests by residents in June had been violent and were a threat to its refinery in Wentworth’s Tara Road.


Alexander said Engen had provided no evidence of violence on the part of the protesters, himself or any of the other respondents. The company had failed to produce footage from its security cameras to back up its claims.

He said that, on the day of the march, the police had cordoned off Tara Road to allow residents to deliver a memorandum to the refinery, where they had been scheduled to meet Engen chief executive Yusa Hassan.

READ MORE: Interdict adds extra fuel to Wentworth residents’ ire

Residents had arrived at the gates to be told Hassan would not meet them. Management had then instructed the police to disperse the marchers, who had so far been peaceful. “The officer in charge simply acted on instruction of the applicant’s representatives and proceeded to call on the crowd to disperse. Stun grenades were fired at the crowd, rubber bullets were fired and many people were injured,” Alexander said.

The police, he said, had acted as a “private security force” for Engen. The parties are now waiting for the court to set a date for oral arguments.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.

Related stories

Q&A Sessions: ‘Nobody will be able to stop us’ — Desmond D’Sa

Desmond D’Sa, winner of the coveted Goldman Environmental Prize in 2014, tells Paddy Harper how being forcibly removed from his home at the age of 10 taught him to fight for his rights

Pay our Ters, with immediate effect

The president moved pretty fast to shut down the boozers, but he’s dragging his heels when it comes to sorting out the UIF

Lockdown, day 105: When the chips are really down

Coronavirus statistics are now people we know. The pandemic affects us all and it’s hard to see light at the end of the tunnel

Editorial: We can’t breathe toxic air

Everyone is affected by pollution, but it is the poorest — black people — who paid and still pay the price

South Durban chokes as Engen refinery starts up

Covid-19 brought clear skies when industries shut down, but then came what residents call waves of filthy air that made them sick

Paddy Harper: Sho’t left for rights, so pay up

The danger’s invisible but terrifying. So the army’s rolling in, freedom’s rolling out, I’m rolling up and my overdraft is rolling over
Advertising

Subscribers only

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

More top stories

Why anti-corruption campaigns are bad for democracy

Such campaigns can draw attention to the widespread presence of the very behaviour they are trying to stamp out — and subconsciously encourage people to view it as appropriate

Tax, wage bill, debt, pandemic: Mboweni’s tightrope budget policy statement

The finance minister has to close the jaws of the hippo and he’s likely to do this by tightening the country’s belt, again.

SA justice delays extradition of paedophile to UK

Efforts to bring Lee Nigel Tucker to justice have spanned 16 years and his alleged victims have waited for 30 years

Former state security minister Bongo back in court

Bongo and his co-accused will appear in the Nelspruit magistrate’s court in Mpumalanga over charges of fraud, corruption and theft
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday