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City suburb under siege

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Traffic was brought to a standstill in the affected areas, while schools, workplaces and court cases were disrupted

Pcture: Danie van der Lith

THERE was chaos in the city yesterday morning as motorists were unable to access roads leading into Roodepan and a section of Galeshewe, which were closed due to hundreds of residents taking to the streets during protest action.

Traffic was brought to a standstill in the affected areas, while schools, workplaces and court cases were disrupted

The deadline for the eviction of residents in Jacksonville and Thutlo Street was yesterday, but the shack owners insisted that they were not going anywhere.

“The previous councillor, Dennis Pienaar, gave us permission to occupy the land and we have been living here for the past four years. They must stop playing games – enough is enough. We will continue to block the roads until we get the answers we want from the mayor, who never came to address us,” Jacksonville protesters stated.

The protesters are also demanding that they be provided with sanitation, electricity and water.

“We will connect the electricity from the power lines that were erected for the houses that have been promised to beneficiaries who have no right to be here.

“The RDP houses that were built in Jacksonville have toilets but they do not flush. We still have to relieve ourselves in the veld. President Cyril Ramaphosa must come and empty our sewage buckets.

“The Roodepan community is continually being ignored and forgotten when it comes to development and service delivery.”

Community members indicated that four people were injured yesterday after they were shot with rubber bullets, including one protester who was apparently hit in the head.

“I was just standing in the road at about 3am when the police opened fire. I didn’t seek medical treatment,” the man said.

Some ambulances transporting patients, military ambulances as well as a hearse that was transporting a coffin had to navigate through treacherous terrain as the roads were barricaded with burning tyres, rubble and branches.

In some instances, protesters attempted to prevent ambulances as well as a forensic pathology van from accessing the road.

“We do not know if they are transporting patients or bodies or if they were taking people to work,” the protesters said.

A police Nyala pursued residents and police fired rubber bullets after police vehicles were pelted with rocks.

As soon as the roads were cleared of debris, broken bottles and burning material, another site was barricaded by the protesters, although their tyre supplies ran low during the course of the day.

Protesters taunted the police then ran off into the bushes or hid inside the Roodepan cemetery grounds.

Manager in the Office of the Mayor, George Mosimane, said that the protests stemmed from eviction notices that were issued to communities in Thutlo Street and Jacksonville last week.

“We have agreed to meet with the representatives of the affected parties at our offices on Thursday. We do not want to specify who will be attending the meeting,” said Mosimane.

He added that the eviction orders would be put into abeyance until the meeting was concluded on Thursday.

“This is a culmination of consultations that took place in the past, now that we have found ourselves at a crossroads.

“It is in the interest of everyone to work together to find an amicable solution.”

However, Jacksonville community leaders indicated that they would not be attending the meeting.

“The last time community representatives attended a similar meeting, they were suddenly locked up. No one is going to go because it is a trap.

“We will instead suggest that the mayor must address the entire community as we take our mandate from them.”

They added that they were busy mobilising more wards to join in the protest action.

Police spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Dimakatso Mooi, said that by late yesterday afternoon the situation was still tense in Roodepan after the community barricaded the roads in the morning.

“At the moment there is no report of any injuries or damages and no one has been arrested.

“The Barkly main road has been cleared and the police are continuing to monitor the situation,” said Mooi.