Woman loses car in violent protest

Vuyo Mkhatha next to her burnt down vehicle outside Nancefield Hostel. Her driver was left for dead after volatile service delivery protests.
Vuyo Mkhatha next to her burnt down vehicle outside Nancefield Hostel. Her driver was left for dead after volatile service delivery protests.

A woman was raped and 20 vehicles pelted with stones while others were burned down during a service delivery protest at Nancefield Hostel in Soweto over electricity blackouts.

Residents of the hostel in Klipspruit, barricaded Klipspruit Valley Road and pelted vehicles passing through the area before midnight on Saturday.

According to provincial police, a woman was raped in the midst of the chaos.

Lt-Col Lungelo Dlamini said more than 20 motorists were affected by the protest, including a woman who became a victim of rape.

"Police are appealing to members of the public who might have been injured to come forward. Several cases including malicious damage to property, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, rape and public violence are being investigated," Dlamini said.

Vuyo Mkhatha, whose vehicle, a Toyota Avanza, was burnt and her driver left fighting for his life in hospital after he was attacked during the protest told Sowetan she was disturbed by the incident.

"I run a transport service that ferries staff at Woolworths. My driver was on his way to pick up a few of them who were due to clock in at 2am.

"The protesters ambushed them and hit him with a brick on his head through the window," Mkhatha said.

She said her driver was knocked out of his senses, forcing the passenger to attempt to take control of the vehicle before it crashed on the side of the bridge leading to the hostel.

"My driver is badly injured and he is fighting for his life in hospital. I have a burnt vehicle that I pay R6,300 installment a month. This means I am now paying over R6,000 for a spare key," Mkhatha said.

Mkhatha said her woes were increased by the fact that vagrants stripped the vehicle of its parts before she could arrive at the scene.

"Now I have to wait here to make sure that no further damage is caused. If these people were protesting over electricity blackouts, why don't they attack Eskom. What have we done to them?" she said.

The area resembled a war zone, with burned rubble, rubber bullet casings and rocks scattered across the road.

Simphiwe Mtshali, a resident in the area, said the protest was nothing short of criminality as protesters went on the rampage and attacked innocent people.

"We haven't had electricity the whole week. We are frustrated and that's why some residents took to the streets. But what happened to people during the protest was not supposed to happen," Mtshali said.

He said it was a small group of people that caused the damage by hiding in the dark and throwing stones at passing vehicles and attacked people.

"I was asleep when they started protesting and only woke up when I heard gunshots outside. That's a regular thing here because people are shot at everyday, but I found out this morning that it was a protest," he said.

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