Friday, July 31, 2009

The Unravelling of South Africa

The streets of Port Alfred turned into a war zone yesterday when police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at striking municipal workers, writes David Macgregor of Dispatch Online. He took these pictures:

In a scene reminiscent of the politically turbulent 1980s, the Dispatch saw terrified protestors chased by police – some still firing rubber bullets – across the Kowie River and arrested, some more than a kilometre away.

Shocked bystanders watched as a convoy of police – with squealing tyres and blaring sirens – raced up to nearby Station Hill and rounded up people hiding in bushes and a private house.

Port Alfred’s station commissioner, Senior Superintendent Lizette Zeelie said several attempts over the past three days to negotiate with protesters not to damage public property had fallen on deaf ears.

“We met with the shop stewards and agreed the protests would be peaceful. We warned them several times about complaints from the community, but they did not stick to the rules.”

She said since the strike had begun, protesters had illegally blocked roads including the R72, smashed concrete rubbish bins and street signs and broken glass bottles on the streets.

Zeelie said police decided on a no-nonsense approach on Tuesday night after protesters burned rubbish inMain Street, and called East London’s crack Crime Combating Unit (CCU) in to help.

Claims that police told striking workers to disperse were disputed by angry shop steward Patrick Jokani.

“We were on our way back to the municipal workshop when they attacked us without warning. It was like the 1980s … they hunted people down and even shot at our backs as we ran away.”

He denied there was any public violence, claiming the marches over the past three days had been “peaceful”.

The 19 men and two women arrested by police are expected to appear in court on charges of public violence and destruction of property.

The crackdown came as President Jacob Zuma yesterday warned that violent protesters would be arrested, after a wave of anti-poverty demonstrations rattled the country over the last two weeks.

“People have the right to protest but not to interfere with the rights of others, so violence and trashing is not allowed,” Zuma told a press conference.

“It is important that they should be arrested. There can be no justification for public violence and the destruction of property,” he said.

6 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...


they don't deserve the time of day..

Anonymous said...

The problem with striking peacefully is that the politicians will not take them seriously. Regrettably, this is the only way the ANC regime will take note of these people. Still, who voted for the ANC? These people. I guess you get what you wish for. They have no right to complain then.

Anonymous said...

Rubber bullets and teargas will not do in the end. If one really wishes to stop this one has to use lead in generous helpings. If one takes out the agitators immidiatly when the destruction and the looting starts preferable with some silenced rifles the rest will become pretty docile and put in the reverse gear. The never ending trouble comes because this mayhem is tolerated far too long.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff. Give them hell.

Anonymous said...

The chickens are coming home to roost!

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 8:32...

Your tactics worked admirably in the late 80's when I was on duty in many townships on fire around the country. Often, it would take longer to ID the real instigators than it did to take them out.

"Skutter nr2 do you see the man in the red cosatu t-shirt and green jacket with the blue baseball cap on in the third row of rioter, just left of the centre?"
"Yes Lieutenant."
"Describe the people next to him."
[Description follows]... If correct, "At my command, 1 shot, fire to kill."

Repeat the process until the rioters decide to go home in peace.

Of course there was always the "FIRE Free!!!" option that I never had to command.

Take out the trash and the sheep will go home.