Violent protests at Princess Park

18 Aug 2011

Protestors blocked Main Reef Road in Johannesburg for hours yesterday amid persistent rumours that they were to be moved from Princess Park to Orange Farm. 

Police used rubber bullets to quell violent protests in Princess Park near Roodepoort yesterday where residents were blocking roads, stoning passing cars and setting fires on the tarmac to prevent motorists from using the road.

South African Police Service (SAPS) spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Wilken says it took the SAPS and Metro police several hours to disperse the protestors and renewed outbreaks of violence occurred each time the police left the area.

People were protesting about persistent rumours that they were to be moved from the Princess Park informal settlement to Orange Farm – allegations that have been hotly denied by police, ward councillors and the Gauteng Department of Housing.

The rumours were apparently started by a former councillor, Alfred Mudau who allegedly told residents that they were to be moved away from the area. This was confirmed by ward councillors Carl Mann and Gert Niemand.

The rumours started on Tuesday after councillors had approached Mudau and insisted that he move out of his council-owned property.

The councillors did confirm that there were plans to establish a temporary housing settlement about two kilometres away and residents of Princess Park would be moved to the new site so that the existing site could be cleared and new RDP houses built there.

The angry residents of Princess Park said they would resist any attempt to move them. After more than 10 hours of protests, the residents calmed down when Housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi addressed them at a public meeting and assured them that they would not be moved to Orange Farm.

Five of the protestors were arrested for public violence and police have confirmed that they will continue to patrol along Main Reef Road to ensure that further protests are halted. 

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