Police fire on rioting teachers
Police in Johannesburg opened fire with rubber bullets on striking teachers yesterday to prevent them from rampaging through the Education Department's district office in Braamfontein.
Ronald Nyathi, regional deputy secretary of the South African Democratic Teacher's Union, said the striking teachers had gone to the offices to speak to non-striking colleagues, but police shot at them when they arrived.
Police spokesman Superintendent Lungelo Dlamini said the teachers broke a security door at the building and hurled objects at the police.
"Rubber bullets were fired after they attacked the police with objects," said Dlamini.
"We are disappointed at police because we were not there to fight. We were there to tell the non-striking teachers that we were unhappy with them being at work while we were on strike," said Nyathi.
Seven injured teachers were taken to hospital.
Nyathi said at least 19 people sustained injuries in dispersing the rioters.
"We were chanting freedom songs and dancing in front of the building. Police fired shots and the next minute I was bleeding heavily," said Victor Lephoto, one of the injured strikers.
A band of teachers trashed the private St Matthews Secondary School on Monday and attacked teachers marking examination papers. The mob also damaged two cars belonging to teachers.
The protesters were angry because the teachers at the school had reported for duty.
When Sowetan visited the school yesterday, it was empty as traumatised teachers and pupils stayed away.
Parents will meet today to discuss plans for the Catholic-owned school while the strike continues.
l Striking civil servants disrupted exams and classes at two high schools in Durban yesterday.