TWO protesters were arrested and 15 injured in a “violent protest” by shack dwellers in George Hill, Sydenham, Durban earlier today.
Abahlali baseMjondolo, the movement that represents shack dwellers, said they decided to protest because the mayor of eThekwini, Zandile Gumede, had not responded to their memorandum within the seven working days that they had given her.
On Monday 26 June Abahlali led thousands of protesters through the streets of Durban to the City Hall to hand the memorandum to the mayor.
They claimed she snubbed them and did not even send a representative from her office to accept the document. The march was sparked by the recent “repression and evictions” allegedly conducted by the eThekwini Municipality, they said.The movement wanted an immediate end to evictions.
Abahlali’s provincial executive committee member Blessing Nyuswa told News24 on Thursday that the seven-day period had lapsed on Wednesday.
“As a result, we decided to protest across the city because we haven’t received the answers we anticipated from the mayor,” she said.
The movement accused Gumede of sending police to repress them instead of replying to their grievances.”Fifteen of our activists, men and women, have been seriously injured by the police. We’ve just come back from visiting them at King Dinizulu Hospital. Some of our members were arrested.”
Nyuswa said police assaulted protesters with their batons and fired shots at others using shotguns.”They did not even use rubber bullets, but real ones,” Nyuswa said.
The movement had said, during last week’s march, that “violent” evictions had taken place over the past few weeks in informal settlements around Durban. They said these evictions had resulted in the death of a two-week-old baby, Jayden Khoza, and Samuel Hloele.
Mthunzi Gumede, mayoral spokesperson, said the municipality was still looking into the memorandum.
“Once we are done we will get back to them,” he said.He denied that police were sent to attack the protesters.”Everyone has a constitutional right to march but that does not mean violating the rights of other road users. Police were there to curb them from violating the rights of motorists who use that road,” he said.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane said about 100 residents from Lacy Road informal settlement blockaded the RD Naidu Drive and Randles Road intersection with burning tyres at about 4am.
“Two suspects were arrested for public violence. The situation is calm at the moment.”
Zwane urged those who claimed to have been injured during the protest to come forward and open cases so that investigations could be done.
Superintendent Sibonelo Mchunu, eThekwini Metro Police spokesman, denied that officers used live ammunition during the protest.”That is not true; Metro Police always use rubber bullets to disperse crowds,” he said.