An Overberg dorpie was brought to a standstill yesterday when hundreds of protesters took their grievances over toilets and electricity to the streets.
A cop was bitten when he tried to arrest a rioter, several roads were closed and a man was knocked down by a passing vehicle during a picket in front of the Theewaterskloof Municipality offices in Caledon.
Cops fired at least four stun grenades as a splinter group of protesters ran amok in the streets.
More than 170 households in Riemvasmaak informal settlement, less than 3km from Caledon, are forced to share seven communal toilets, of which only two are working.
Theewaterskloof Municipality spokesman Hugo Geldenhuys said the march was legal.
“The reason for the protest was a need for service delivery, especially relating to toilets and electricity,” he explains.
As part of the crowd ran through the streets, a protester was knocked down by a small truck.
He was taken to hospital by ambulance with possible head injuries.
Community leader Raymond Nongaza read out a memorandum stating the community of Riemvasmaak’s grievances, which include a severe lack of toilets, electricity cuts and some residents still waiting for the installation of electricity.
When the crowd refused to disperse before getting answers, the Municipal Manager Stan Wallace agreed to meet with a delegation.
He later informed the crowd that a number of new toilets would be installed in Riemvasmaak today and that repairs to existing toilets which had been vandalised would start soon.
“Vandalism is a big problem and we need the community’s help with this,” said Wallace.
While some of the protesters were not completely satisfied with his answers, the crowd dispersed after getting assurance that a meeting would be held with their representatives on Monday to discuss developments in addressing their problems.
“The people are satisfied after the municipality promised that the electricity would be unblocked and that the municipality would give us answers next week about when a contractor will start laying connections so everybody can have electricity,” says Nongaza.
According to police spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel André Traut, three protesters were arrested.
“Three male persons were arrested for public violence and they are due in Caledon Court [today],” says Traut.
He added that an accident report was registered for the man who was knocked over.
“The pedestrian was not seriously injured,” he adds