Tshwane residents join nationwide protest action

In Hammanskraal, protesters reportedly blocked roads using burning debris and rubble. (Image via Twitter: @Abramjee)

In Hammanskraal, protesters reportedly blocked roads using burning debris and rubble. (Image via Twitter: @Abramjee)

On Thursday, protesters took to the streets in various parts of the City of Tshwane as part of protest action against rampant corruption and a lack of service delivery.The affected areas include Hammanskraal, Soshanguve, Mabopane and Winterveldt, coinciding with demonstrations which have taken place around the country in places such as Khayelitsha in Cape Town, Orange Grove and Alexandra in Johannesburg and Kroonstad in the Free State.

In Hammanskraal, protesters reportedly blocked roads using burning debris and rubble. The Mail & Guardian has since learnt that the roads have been cleared. Protests in the area, however, are ongoing.

Tshwane Metro Police spokesperson Isaac Mahamba told the M&G  that the protests have turned violent in Winterveldt where shops are being targeted.
He said that police were “trying to deal with the situation.”

While speculation about why the protests started and who is behind them is rife, a banner promoting the protest action began making the rounds on Wednesday. It claimed the demonstrations in Tshwane were against corruption and poor service delivery. It further called for the immediate removal of the Economic Freedom Fighters’ and Democratic Alliance-led administration from Tshwane.

However, Mahamba said they are yet to establish the demands of the protesters. “We are hearing different stories from different people so we cannot confirm as yet,” he added.

The protest in Khayelitsha reached its peak on Thursday as angry citizens attempted to bring the township to a standstill. They began in the early hours of the morning by blocking off the N2 highway with concrete blocks.

The protesters are demanding that the City of Cape Town scrap their water bills. Protest leaders said residents are being hit terribly by exorbitant water bills, despite having limited access to water.

In Orange Grove, residents are demanding Johannesburg mayor, Herman Mashaba, convert old and unused government buildings into RDP houses. Disgruntled residents blocked off Louis Botha avenue on Thursday morning, but dispersed after police arrived on the scene.

In Alexandra, demonstrations began on April 3 as residents expressed their anger over the building of illegal structures and the lack of waste management in the township

Protesters said they will put a halt to demonstrations once they were addressed by President Cyril Ramaphosa after they had a memorandum rejected twice by Mashaba, but claim that they were not surprised by his failure to meet their demands.

Police spokesperson Mavela Masondo said the situation in Orange Grove is now calm but no arrests have been made.

Sixty people were arrested in Kroonstad after a group calling itself the “Concerned Group” damaged a post office in Maokeng on Thursday morning. The Lengau Post Office has since been closed.

According to police spokesperson Captain Stephen Thakeng, the residents of Maokeng barricaded the roads with rocks and burning tyres in protest against “service delivery and high unemployment in Maokeng.”

Eyaaz Matwadia

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