11 shot as road protest turns ugly
Eleven people were shot and wounded and six others arrested when police and more than 200 protesters clashed at Quarry Road Heights, near Durban, yesterday.
One person was seriously injured and rushed to hospital. The others were treated at the scene. The protesters were arrested for blocking the road and forcing other community members to join the march.
The protesters - all from a low-cost housing development - blocked the construction of the new Inanda road and forced the construction company to stop work. They complained that the road cut through their yards.
When the protesters refused to move, police fired rubber bullets.
Region Sokhela, the secretary of the development's committee, said they had taken the issue to their local councillor, Rabi Gobind, several times, but to no avail.
He said their protest was peaceful, but had turned violent when police opened fire. "They did not even fire warning shots, they just fired at people and we started running in all directions. It was not supposed to be like this," Sokhela said.
"Our houses are on the verge of collapse as the road construction runs into our yards. Sewerage pipes have burst. We can't live like this."
The protesters placed rocks to barricade the road and prevent further construction work.
By late yesterday, residents were waiting for those that had been arrested to return. "We won't move until they return," said a community member.
Gobind told Sowetan after meeting representatives of the construction company and the council that it was decided a meeting would take place today to resolve the conflict.
"My major concern is to ensure that those arrested are released as they are innocent people who were caught in the conflict. We have reached an agreement that they be released under my name," said Gobind.
He also urged the community to allow the construction of the road to continue while negotiations were going on.