PE police condemn torching of vehicles during violent N2 Highway protest

BY AFIKILE LUGUNYA - JUNE 7, 2017
PE police condemn torching of vehicles during violent N2 Highway protest

The South African Police Service management in Nelson Mandela Bay on Wednesday strongly condemned "the serious public violence acts" that occurred on Tuesday in Ikamvelihle and Wells Estate as well as on the N2 freeway, which serves as the main route in and out of Nelson Mandela Bay, during a service delivery protest.

"Since Tuesday morning, at about 11:00 till about 23:00 various vehicles, including police vehicles, were stoned and damaged using incendiary devices (petrol bombs). Two vehicles were completely burnt out on the N2," said police spokesperson, Captain Andre Beetge.

"The others were damaged on the Addo Road running past Ikamvelihle and Wells Estate.

"Seven cases of public violence as well as two damage to infrastructure cases were opened. This morning the Addo Road bears the picture of a road full of rubble and rocks and burn scars."

Motherwell Cluster Commander, Major General Dawie Rabie, also voiced his concerns that the difference between protests and the throwing of stones and flammable objects at moving vehicles are the risk of serious injury and possible deaths of innocent motorists.

"We will review possible video evidence obtained and aim to identify the suspects and instigators involved in these public violence cases and bring these perpetrators to book."

Provincial Commissioner of the Eastern Cape, Lt Gen Liziwe Ntshinga, added her voice to emphasise that unlawfulness will not be tolerated and additional resources have been sent to assist local police in containing public violence in the Bay.

"The Saps must protect the rights of all citizens and we will not tolerate protestors to damage property or injure innocent parties. Protestors will be arrested and held accountable," she said.

Residents reportedly took to the streets after they received eviction notices from the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality as they were apparently occupying a certain piece of land illegally.

An NU29 protester, who didn’t want to be identified, told RNEWS that they had to act to show the municipality that they mean business.

“People are tired of waiting that is why we have decided to form a protest because councilliors come and go but they are not doing anything about the fact that we don’t have houses to stay,” he said.

“Before we came to NU29, we were told that we would be given the land at the back of NU29, but nothing happened we are still waiting even today.

“They are digging at the back, and it’s been years, that is why the people of ward 54 decided to take the land at the front because they are not using this part and we don’t have houses so we thought that by using this land then they would start building us houses.

“The councillor keeps making empty promises like he said he would form a meeting with us on the 4th of May to discuss this but he never did.”

The councillor was not available for comment.

“We’ve been waiting for too long and the councillor is not doing anything, so the community eventually got angry and tired of waiting," he added.

“The councillor also said that he doesn’t know what to do because he has been asking the people who are involved in the housing department but they don’t seem to respond. It's not like we like protesting, burning tyres or we have nothing to do we are just bored, but in South Africa for things to be right there people have to get angry and destroy.”

A taxi driver, who had to use M17, from town to Motherwell NU 12 and 13 to avoid the protest, told RNEWS that the protesters action was confusing him.

“What I don’t understand is why they are damaging our roads, because the municipality doesn’t live here, if they are serious then they must go straight to wherever the municipality is," he said.

“I live at Wells estates and I’m worried how am I going to get home and what they will do to me, because they have burnt a bus already.”

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