Eight arrested after residents clash with cops in Richards Bay CBD
Eight people were arrested in Richards Bay, in northern KZN, on Monday following ongoing public violence that saw police and community members clash in the town's central business district.
According to a police officer who preferred to remain anonymous, the violence is linked to community members taking the law into their own hands by targeting "paras" - a colloquial name for whoonga (nyaope) smokers, who are often involved in petty crimes to feed their addictions.
It is understood that Monday's discord was a continuation of events which have been ongoing in the area since last month.
In July, an angry mob of residents stormed the SMME Park, opposite the local taxi rank, where they proceeded to stone a building and nightclub that is understood to be a popular hangout for drug dealers and substance abusers.
Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said police had to use rubber bullets and gas to disperse the unruly crowd on Monday.
"At 9am about 100 community members gathered in Richards Bay CBD. The police officers responded and a 32-year-old suspect was arrested after he was found in possession of a dangerous weapon," she said.
"Later a group of people gathered at the police station demanding the release of the suspect. Police had to use rubber bullets and gas to disperse the unruly crowd."
Members of the #RichardsBay community clashed with police earlier today following unrest linked to the ongoing issue of drug addicts in the area. The situation got tense when a protester was arrested and community members clashed with police demanding his release @TimesLIVE pic.twitter.com/wwERkoNUaO— Orrin Singh (@orrin417) August 19, 2019
Mbele added that during the commotion, two licensed firearms fell from people in the crowd.
"A total of eight suspects, aged between 27 and 57, were arrested for public violence," she said.
It is understood that calm has been restored to the Richards Bay CBD and all roads have been re-opened.