Emeute à Phomolong Mamelodi (Pretoria) – 23 mars 2010

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Riots break out in S. African townships over poor services


Tue, 23 Mar 2010

South African police have fired live and buckshot bullets at protesters in northeastern townships amid increased outcry over poor housing and lack of rail services.

Protestors in Ogies Township in the northeastern province of Mpumalanga attacked ten police officers patrolling the area on Tuesday inside an armored personnel carrier.

The officers opened live ammunition on the assailants to prompt them to escape, injuring one.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people in the Phomolong Township, in northeastern province of Gauteng, blocked roads with rocks and burning tires on Tuesday.

Police used rubber bullets as a number of rioters looted shops and began hurling stones.

The latest unrest comes amid reports that frustrated residents seek to persuade the government to supply the region with needed infrastructure.

A protester told Reuters that legal ways to convey their grievances to the government had been ignored with “a cold shoulder.”

In another incident, four Cape Town bus drivers were injured on Tuesday after their vehicles were stoned by rioters during a one-day minibus taxi strike.

Police say they have the situation under control with forces continuing to monitor the area, as nationwide protests are expected to intensify with the aim of tapping into the media attention ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2010 games in the country, first ever to be hosted by an African nation.

Many poor black South Africans complain that their lives have not improved since Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) swept to power in 1994, promising to provide jobs, housing and medical care for all.

President Jacob Zuma has promised more jobs, housing, schools as well as medical care for all but also underlined the difficulties in achieving that goal.

SAfrica police fire buckshot at township rioters


Tue Mar 23, 2010

By Olivia Kumwenda

PHOMOLONG, South Africa (Reuters) – South African police fired buckshot Tuesday to disperse township rioters who threw stones and looted shops to protest over poor housing and lack of rail services.

Hundreds of people in the Phomolong township near the South African capital Pretoria blocked roads with rocks and burning tyres, in the latest attempt to persuade the government to supply much-needed infrastructure.

Scores of similar protests have taken place across the country in the past two months in scenes reminiscent of the apartheid-era.

« People have been trying to use formal ways with government, but been given a cold shoulder, so protests are just the best thing they can respond to, » a protester told Reuters, before being chased away by a blast of buckshot.

Police Captain Johas Mahesu said the situation in Phomolong was under control, but his force would monitor the area.

« It’s hard to tell what will happen next because it’s on and off, but we have a strong contingency, » he said.

Cape Town police said four bus drivers were slightly injured when their buses were stoned during a strike by minibus taxi operators in the city.


Police also detailed an ambush on a police armoured vehicle in Ogies in Mpumalanga province Saturday, which they said had been completely gutted after a group of protesters hurled several petrol bombs at the vehicle carrying 10 riot policemen.

The police officers had to fight their way out of the ambush, using live ammunition, in the worst attack on police since the protests first flared this year.

The protests are expected to intensify ahead of the soccer World Cup being held in Africa for the first time from June 11-July 11, because of the increased media attention focussed on South Africa.

Many poor black South Africans complain that their lives have not improved since the ruling African National Congress (ANC) swept to power in 1994, promising to provide jobs, housing and medical care for all.

Despite a decade of strong economic growth up to 2009, official unemployment has remained above 20 percent and millions of blacks still live in shantytowns with little access to running water, sanitation or electricity.

Abdul Hassan, chairman of the Somali Association of South Africa, said some of the foreign-owned shops in Phomolong had been looted by protesters.

« They are targeting foreigners because we are the weaker link in the community, so they hit us to get government attention, » he said.

More than 60 people were killed and tens of thousands were displaced in a wave of anti-foreigner riots that swept across the country in 2008.

Sunday, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe called for an end to the violent protests, which have become an almost daily occurrence in poor black townships and shantytowns in the past two months.

President Jacob Zuma, who promised to improve the lives of the poor while campaigning for election last April, is facing an uphill battle to deliver on those promises soon after South Africa emerged from its first recession in 17 years.

(Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda; Editing by Giles Elgood)

Heurts entre policiers et émeutiers dans un township de Pretoria



PHOMOLONG, Afrique du Sud – La police sud-africaine a ouvert le feu mardi pour disperser des émeutiers qui manifestaient dans un township de Pretoria contre le mal-logement et les problèmes de transport.

Des centaines de personnes ont dressé des barricades dans les rues du township de Phomolong à l’aide de pierres et de pneus en flamme pour réclamer de meilleures infrastructures.

Le capitaine de police Johas Mahesu a déclaré que les forces de l’ordre maîtrisaient la situation mais qu’elles restaient sur le qui-vive.

Les manifestations de ce type, qui évoquent le souvenir de scènes de l’apartheid, sont devenues quasi quotidiennes dans le pays ces deux derniers mois et elles risquent de se multiplier à l’approche de la Coupe du monde de football qui débute le 11 juin. Dimanche, le vice-président Kgalema Motlanthe a lancé un appel au calme.

Une partie importante de la population noire se plaint de ne pas avoir vu son niveau de vie augmenter depuis l’arrivée au pouvoir du Congrès national africain (ANC) en 1994, malgré des promesses sur l’emploi, le logement et la couverture santé.

Malgré une décennie de forte croissance économique jusqu’en 2009, le taux de chômage officiel reste au-dessus des 20% et des millions de noirs vivent toujours dans des bidonvilles avec un accès limité à l’eau courante et à l’électricité.

Le président de l’Association somalienne d’Afrique du Sud, Abdoul Hassan, a déclaré que des magasins appartenant à des étrangers avaient été pillés à Phomolong, rappelant la vague de violences de 2008. Plus de 60 étrangers avaient alors été tués et des dizaines de milliers d’autres déplacés.

South African police under siege in township demos


23 03 2010

Johannesburg – A group of South African police had to shoot their way out of an armoured personnel carrier at the weekend after being besieged by angry demonstrators protesting over poor service delivery, police said Tuesday.

The past few weeks have seen a fresh outbreak of violent protests in townships across South Africa.

The protests over poor living conditions come as the country attempts to project an image of stability with less than three months to go to the football World Cup.

Ten policemen were riding inside an armoured personnel carrier (APC) when it was attacked by protestors in Ogies township, north-eastern Mpumalanga province, a police spokesman told the SAPA news agency.

The demonstrators lured the vehicle over large spikes that blew out its tyres and threw petrol bombs at it, Captain Leonard Hlathi said.

The police returned fire with live ammunition before making an escape, he said.

At least one protestor was injured during the violence and 32 people were arrested, he said.

A further 29 people were arrested following a protest in another township in Mpumalanga province, in which a municipal building was burnt down, he added.

APCs known as Casspirs in South Africa were a common sight in black townships during the apartheid era when police used them to fire on protestors demanding an end to white supremacist rule.

In the past few years, they have made a comeback as township dwellers return to the streets to demand that the ruling African National Congress deliver on its promise of a better life for all post-apartheid.

The protests have become a feature of the May-September winter months, when freezing temperatures in cities such as Johannesburg and Pretoria add to the hardship of the millions who live in tin shacks.

This year, the protests have begun earlier, as political parties begin jockeying for position in the run-up to local elections in 2011.

Johannesburg’s The Star newspaper, in its Tuesday edition, counted 27 major service delivery protests across five of nine provinces between January 25 and March 15. Most of the protests took place in Gauteng province, where Johannesburg and Pretoria are situated.

Johannesburg is the location of the opening game and final in the June 11 – July 11 World Cup, which police have vowed to secure.

Mamelodi mayhem


March 24 2010

By Graeme Hosken, Barry Bateman and Lesego Masemola

Violent service delivery protests erupted in Mamelodi yesterday, with police fighting running battles with angry residents.

Police reinforcements were brought in from across Gauteng to quell the violence.

The protests, which saw nearly 4 000 people from the township’s eastern informal settlements take to the streets, led to the closure of Mamelodi’s tertiary institutions and saw demonstrators prevent thousands of people from going to work.

While nearly 1 000 protesters hurled stones at police in running street battles and blockaded roads outside the University of Pretoria’s (UP) Mamelodi campus, 3 000 protested outside Metrorail offices at the Pretoria railway station.

City law enforcement authorities admitted they had been caught « off-guard » by the latest demonstrations which began on Monday night with « street committees » barricading roads with rubble and burning tyres.

The committees are alleged to have blocked families with children, seeking the safety of relatives’ homes in other parts of the township, from leaving the violence-racked areas of Phomolong informal settlement and Extension 11 near Pienaarspoort railway station where rioting broke out.

The violence continued through yesterday and last night a tense calm prevailed.

Protesters from Extension 11 were demonstrating over the lack of trains in their area. Metrorail suspended trains after a spate of violent attacks in October.

The demonstration in Phomolong was over a lack of housing, which residents claimed they were promised from April 1.

Protesters from both areas joined forces against the police, who were issued with rounds of buckshot.

Dozens of protesters were injured, most after being shot with rubber bullets. At one stage, the protesters told police to retreat if they wanted an end to the violence.

Nearly 1 300 Phomolong residents are set to be moved ahead of construction of the new Greenview railway station.

Community leader Nelson Ngala said they were upset because the people identified for relocation should have been moved three weeks ago. « The city was meant to address our concerns, but they never did. They ignored us and our plight, » he said adding that they would continue striking until their concerns were addressed.

Community Safety MMC (member of the mayoral committee), Dikeledi Lehobye, who admitted the city had been caught off guard by the protests, said they had called on the provincial government to dispatch reinforcements. « The situation is volatile and we are worried about the violence, » she said.

She said the protests were a surprise because they thought they had an agreement with residents.

« We reached an agreement with Phomolong residents two weeks ago over when the moves would take place, which will be done in phases.

She said the violence was unacceptable and that as government they would restore law and order.

Metrorail spokesman Sibusiso Ngomane said the decision to re-instate services to the area had been approved, but they were awaiting the findings of several reports .

« We need to asses the condition of the rail line and perform a risk assessment.

« We have been working closely with the Tshwane Metro Council, commuter representatives and the railway police, » he said.

Ngomane said this information was relayed to the commuter representatives at a meeting at the Pretoria railway station, but it was too late to stop the violence.

He said a plan to build a train station near the Greenview informal settlement had been approved.

Last year, on several occasions commuters forced train drivers to make unscheduled stops at the area to allow commuters to alight. « The tender to build the new station has been closed and the contractor appointed.

« We will build a new platform and double railway lines to allow more traffic and ensure the communities who live close to the rail reserve are catered for.

« The population explosion in the area required that we invest in infrastructure, » he said.

UP spokesman Sanku Tsunke said the campus was closed after students struggled to gain access to it.

« Access to the campus has been compromised and buses transporting students to and from the campus were not operating » he said, adding that 480 students been affected by the protests.

Tsunke said the university was due to assess the situation today and, should protests continue, it would remain closed.

He said no damage was reported at the campus and security personnel at university had been placed on high alert until further notice.

Meanwhile, Karabo Seanego reports that police foiled plans by a group of Soshanguve residents to extend their protest action for the second day.

Community leader Devilliers Makgakane said: « They told us to go home and we if we returned they would start to shoot. We decided to disperse and wait for tomorrow (today) when the premier comes here. »

Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane and members of her executive council were expected to visit Soshanguve to assess progress in the delivery of services.

  • March 8 – Fed-up residents of Soshanguve take to the streets.
  • March 8 – Mamelodi residents barricade the streets with burning tyres and rocks.
  • March 9 – Mamelodi continues to burn as State of City address is given.
  • March 11 – Residents of several informal settlements in Atteridgeville embark on a service delivery protest that results in the arrest 11 people.
  • March 22 – Bullets fly in Soshanguve Block R as protesting residents in Ward 27 call for the removal of their councillor, William Maluleka, whom they claim is failing them.

~ par Alain Bertho sur 24 mars 2010.


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