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By Mhlaba Memela | Feb 17, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

SERVICE delivery protests in Blaaubosch, Newcastle, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, turned ugly when angry residents blocked roads by burning tyres and stoning passing cars.

Roads leading into Newcastle and Utrecht were barricaded with rocks, bricks, burning tyres and scrap metal yesterday. The residents were demanding proper roads, RDP houses, health facilities and better infrastructure.

The police had their hands full extinguishing the fires and dispersing the residents. They fired rubber bullets while the residents retaliated by pelting them with stones.

The police claimed that the residents had allegedly begun their protest march before the time permitted by law.

The protest turned violent when residents stopped buses and taxis, preventing people from going to work and children to school. Five people were arrested and eight others were lightly injured.

Resident Nomanga Shabalala said: We are protesting against poor service delivery and corruption. We do not have anything here while other areas are developing. We feel like outsiders in our country because no one is interested in our needs. We are angered by the failure of the Newcastle municipality to provide simple things like water and electricity. We do not even have low-cost houses here," she said.

Police spokesperson director Phindile Radebe said the community had blocked all the roads in the area.

"When police arrived and tried to calm the situation, the protesters began pelting them with stones. Police were forced to use rubber bullets," Radebe said.

Newcastle mayor Afzul Rehman said the municipality is very concerned about the situation in Blaaubosch.

"We understand very well the community's frustration over lack of service delivery in their area.

"We do have a budget to develop the area but we can not move fast enough because the community is on private land," said Rehman.


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