10/05/2017 12:02 SAST | Updated 10/05/2017 12:02 SAST

Shots Fired As Laudium Protesters Demand Delivery Of Basic Services

Residents from Itireleng have taken to the streets in protest against the ongoing lack of water and electricity supply to their homes.

The current service delivery protest in Laudium mirrors a previous protest in Ennerdale in July 2016 with residents blocking roads and burning tyres.
The current service delivery protest in Laudium mirrors a previous protest in Ennerdale in July 2016 with residents blocking roads and burning tyres.

Live shots and rubber bullets have been fired in Laudium, near Pretoria, after residents from the Itireleng informal settlement took to the streets blocking roads and burning tyres demanding delivery of basic services.

More than 100 residents gathered along the R55 just after 5 a.m. Members of the South African Police Service and the Tshwane Metro Police arrived shortly afterwards and were monitoring the crowd from a safe distance.

Some of the residents complained that they had been living in Itireleng for about eight years and were still struggling to gain access to water and electricity.

A man was seriously injured after being attacked during the protests. It was initially believed that the man had succumbed to his injuries but it was later revealed that he was alive.

One parent told reporters on the ground that residents were tired of watching their children die as a result of illegally connected electricity cables running through the informal settlement and wanted government to do something about it now.

They demanded that action be taken within seven days.

The City of Tshwane's Member of the Mayoral Committee on Housing, Mandla Nkomo, arrived shortly after 9 a.m. to address the residents.

Addressing the visibly angry and frustrated crowd from a nyala, Nkomo said the department was working on a budget from the previous administration, which left them very little room to make big decisions such as ensuring there would be electricity within seven days.

"For you guys to expect me to say that there will be electricity now, I don't want to do that because I will be lying to you. But we are working on it, by month end there will be a new budget for the new administration," he said.

Residents were not happy with Nkomo saying they were not willing to negotiate on the matter.

They handed a memorandum to him and said they demanded answers within seven days.

"We want action now," one resident said.

Another resident told Nkomo that there are 2,098 stands in Itireleng that do not have electricity or water. He said the stands have been that way for the eight years he has lived there and that government needes to take action.

Nkomo left after about 20 minutes.

The atmosphere calmed down shortly after that, with some residents making their way from the main road back to the informal settlement.

But minutes later officers fired rubber bullets.

A News24 reporter heard shots that sounded like live ammunition being fired. She later saw three members of the public with guns in their hands who were trying to protect their homes and a nearby mosque from being looted.

Police could not immediately confirm if the men had been taken into custody. But a News24 reporter on the ground confirmed seeing the men being assisted into a police van.