PROTEST OVER 2010 STADIUM TURNS UGLY
A PROTEST by pupils and community members of Neslpruit turned ugly when a policewoman's rifle was wrested from her while she lay injured after being hit in the face with a stone.
The protest took place yesterday near the 2010 Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga.
The pupils were from Cyril Clerk High and John Mdluli Primary, which were demolished to make way for the stadium.
The protesters demanded that the government provide them quickly with new schools as promised when construction on the stadium started.
At the moment pupils are attend classes in makeshift classrooms near the stadium, which has been constructed on land where the fully fledged schools stood.
A BMW belonging to the Mpumalanga police's flying squad was also torched.
The community and pupils had blocked the road leading to the stadium, preventing workers from entering the site.
The protest, which started on Monday, saw armed police shooting at pupils with rubber bullets.
At yesterday's protest, held after a community meeting, police again used rubber bullets. A number of people were injured and arresting than 30 arrested for public violence.
Members of the community were throwing stones at the police and some used catapults to fight back. This resulted in the policewoman being hit on the face.
She fell to the ground and during the commotion her pump-action rifle was wrested from her.
"It is true that a pump-action gun is gone, a BMW belonging to our flying squad was torched and more than 30 people were arrested.
"One of our members and other community members sustained injuries," Mpumalanga police spokesperson Superintendent Malcolm Mokomene said yesterday.
Ironically, a teenaged schoolgirl, who was seriously injured when she was hit by a number of rubber bullets, was arrested and taken to the Nelspruit police station instead of hospital.
Mokomene said she was left behind by the ambulances that fetched the injured policewoman and a few others.
Asked why police transported the injured girl to the police station instead of hospital, Mokomene said it was because she was a suspect.
"Some of the injured were suspects so they were taken to the police station but after it was established that they were injured they were taken to hospital," Mokomene said.
But it was only after Sowetan stormed the police station and challenged cops about the fact that the injured girl was not taken to hospital that the police called an ambulance to take her from the police charge office.
Education spokesperson Jasper Zwane pleaded with all concerned not to resort to violence because their concerns were being addressed.