Two hurt in violent KZN march

TWO people were injured, one seriously, when police allegedly fired live ammunition at protesting residents of eMondlo, northern KwaZulu-Natal, yesterday morning.

Three people were also arrested during a scuffle between irate residents and the police.

Community spokesperson Basil Mkhonza said one of the protestors, Thokozani Mdlalose, was seriously injured when police shot him in the head. He was taken to the Grace Hospital in Pietermaritzburg.

Another community member, Senzo Mbokazi, was taken to the Vryheid Hospital, said Mkhonza.

Mkhonza said angry residents had gathered at midnight and blocked roads with burning tyres and anything they could lay their hands on. They were protesting against poor service delivery by the IFP-led Abaqulusi municipality.

He said this was a follow-up protest from last year's December 17 march in which Abaqulusi mayor George Dlamini had accepted a memorandum and promised to meet the community before the end of the year. That meeting never took place.

"In the memorandum, which the mayor accepted, we had made it clear that we needed electricity, running water, toilets and sanitation, low-cost housing and roads," Mkhonza said.

"The mayor had promised to meet us but the meeting never materialised, which is why we are protesting today."

Mkhonza said six wards in the area had never been part of any development.

"It pains us to see that only a small section of the Bhekumthetho area had been electrified despite then minister of minerals and energy Buyelwa Sonjica and then MEC for local government, Mike Mabuyakhulu pumping R14million into electrification in February 2009," he said.

Mkhonza said the local magistrate had given them permission to protest but the local police station commissioner had refused to sign the letter.

He instead called on the police from Ulundi and Vryheid to "come and shoot" at them.

"After negotiating with the police we resolved to reapply for permission to protest next Wednesday.

"We hope MEC for cooperate governance and traditional affairs Nomusa Dube will be available to receive our memorandum because we are no longer going to waste out time by addressing it to the municipality," he said.