Violent clashes erupt in Joburg protest
Residents of Freedom Park have accused Johannesburg executive mayor Herman Mashaba of failing to meet their demand for land to build RDP houses.
In the early hours of Monday morning‚ residents of Freedom Park and Eldorado Park staged protests‚ blockading roads around the area‚ heavily affecting traffic‚ including the N12‚ Golden Highway‚ N1 and Union Road.
Burning barricades cause traffic chaos in Johannesburg Rocks‚ burning tyres and reports of shooting in a service delivery protest caused early morning chaos for commuters around Eldorado Park in Johannesburg on Monday.
"We have tried speaking to Mashaba to come and see the conditions we live in but he has been ignoring us and there is no going forward. As dwellers‚ we don't have a place to stay‚ so we have been occupying the Nkomponi land since last year but police have been shooting at us‚" said Portia Mlambo‚ a resident of Freedom Park.
"We also took a memorandum of demands on 24 March 2017 to Luthuli House and Gwede Mantashe (Secretary General of the ANC) took it and promised to respond to our memorandum in seven days but we are still waiting‚" said Mlambo‚ an unemployed mother of two children.
She added that all they wanted from Mashaba was a piece of land to build RDP houses with dignity.
Johannesburg Metro Police as well as the South African Police (SAPS) have been firing rubber bullets at the residents in a bid to disperse the crowd‚ but this has not deterred them from throwing stones at the police and blockading roads.
JMPD spokesman Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said it's unsafe to drive past Freedom Park on the N12.
Mashaba's spokesperson‚ Tony Taverna-Turisan‚ denied that Mashaba was aware of the situation at Freedom Park‚ but acknowledged the housing backlog in the economic hub.
"I am unaware of the efforts of the community to directly reach the mayor on this matter. However‚ the mayor is acutely aware of the housing challenges we have inherited [from the previous administration]. We inherited a housing backlog of about 300‚000 units with a delivery of an estimated 3‚500 per year and this is wholly inadequate to deal with the housing challenges [as] it would take about a century to catch up with the current backlog‚"said Taverna-Turisan.
During the state of the city address last week‚ the mayor announced that the metro was reaching the end of its audits of the City of Johannesburg's owned land and buildings‚ with an intention of converting them into affordable housing for residents and low-cost rental for commercial businesses.
A few residents were injured by rubber bullets on Monday.
Several vehicles have been also damaged‚ but police visibility has since been increased‚ with a SAPS chopper roaming around the area.