Four people were killed, numerous more were injured, and public property worth millions of rands was damaged yesterday as Tembisa residents shut down the township and engaged in ongoing conflicts with the police over service delivery.
In the Ekurhuleni township, locals protested on the streets over poor service delivery, “expensive” rates, taxes, and excessive electricity bills. Starting at 4 am, they blocked access to the highways with burning tires, boulders, and heavy metals, preventing people from going to work.
Municipal council offices were also set on fire, along with the main civic center at Rabasotho Section and several cars. In the Ethafeni Section, a second satellite municipal building was also set on fire. Outside of the municipal property, a bank ATM was broken into and bombed.
Three people were killed during the protest, allegedly by police who were attempting to disperse the gathering. Two of the four persons died at Rabasotho after an ATM they were attempting to break into exploded, according to Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department’s late-day confirmation yesterday. Both the number of fatalities and the explosion’s cause were unknown at the time.
Pheta Molonyama, 43, was one of those who was shot;she was struck by a bullet while buying a cigarette from one of the stores in the Makhulong Section.
The 52-year-old Eugene Shabalala was additionally hit by bullets. He claimed he was visiting a friend who lived close to the residence he was renting in Rabasotho.
An anonymous community leader who preferred to go by the code name G-17 said he believed there were additional fatalities related to the protests and accused the police of deliberately targeting them.
“These people have come here to kill us. They have not come to keep control. The man they killed in Rabasotho was inside the yard. He was not even part of the crowd. So why was he shot?
“You can see from his wounds that he was shot with a shotgun. Why do they use live ammunition to disperse crowds?”
“G-17” vowed that the residents would continue with the protests until their demands were met and Ekurhuleni mayor Tania Campbell met them.
He said that the free electricity and the free 6 kiloliters of water had been discontinued by the DA-led coalition, which was backed by the EFF.
On Friday at the Rabasotho community hall, Campbell had committed to meeting the locals, but he never showed up. Instead, she dispatched some of her staff to meet with the community that was the source of the Monday protest.
Sizwe Dlamini, a 58-year-old resident of Tembisa, claimed that the high charges made it impossible for him to continue purchasing electricity. “This has gone on for far too long. Last time I paid about R800 monthly. Just last week I had to pay R1 800. That just does not make sense. It is daylight robbery and we have had enough.”
*NOT FOR SENSITIVE VIEWERS*
— CrimeInSA (@sa_crime) August 2, 2022
Credit to voice of Tembisa Journalist Mfanelo Phenyibheshu Dzanibe for the videos and reporting 🔥 pic.twitter.com/7srteruxXc
— Vehicle Trackers (@VehicleTrackerz) August 1, 2022
In a statement, Campbell urged calm amidst the escalating hostility, claiming that the damage was motivated by politics.
“I call for calm to immediately be restored in Tembisa. Citizens have the constitutional right to protest, however, such acts of arson and vandalism to public infrastructure will not be tolerated.
“Last week, I delegated five MMCs to engage residents on the memorandum they submitted to the City. However, that meeting unfortunately collapsed and failed to reach any resolutions.
“I will be contacting the Premier of Gauteng David Makhura through our inter-governmental relations channels to develop a co-ordinated approach to the impasse by the government.
“As a multiparty-coalition government we are concerned that the visuals we are witnessing in Tembisa are no longer community-based, but rather a well-orchestrated operation to render the township ungovernable.”
— Somncane👊🏿🇿🇦 (@MakhumaloShado) August 1, 2022