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Saturday, September 26, 2020
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    eMzinoni erupts in violence

    The community accused the police of being against the community. They said that they have lost faith in the police.

    Violence erupted in eMzinoni on Thursday. It allegedly started with the arrest of gang members. The community is accusing the police of not taking action against the gang members.
    The Bulletin spoke to bystanders in and around eMzinoni. They all alleged that the Stragel gang is killing people randomly. They would allegedly target any random person before assaulting them, maybe even killing them in the process.
    The exact spark that started the protest actions is not 100% clear, but it is alleged that a gang member was killed. The rival gang started to go to schools to try and find some of the suspected gang members, disrupting classes and threatening pupils. Parents had to fetch their frightened children from school.
    The community demanded that action be taken against the gangsters by the police. They demanded that the gang members be arrested and that they stay in jail.
    The community accused the police of being against the community. They said that they have lost faith in the police.
    The community members started to march towards the police station, barricading the roads with rocks, bottles and new storm water pipes. A group of people marched towards the eMzinoni police station,throwing it with stones and trying to set it alight. The SAPS defended the station with shotguns loaded with rubber anti-riot ammunition.
    The area around the police station resembled a war zone.
    There were embers left of the tyres that were burning all over the area.
    The Bulletin entered the station’s charge office only to find a hive of activity with police officers completing forms and tagging confiscated weapons.
    The community organised an all-night vigil on Sunday night. They started to mobilise around 23H00 and forced other members of the community to join them. If you had a son, he needed to join. If not, then the father of the house had to join. They all gathered at the Raymond Mavuso hall. Tyres and other combustibles were burned, the singing and toi toi-ing continued into the early hours of the morning. Some residents didn’t sleep at all.
    Roads were barricaded with anything they could lay their hands on. The Morgenzon road saw a few accidents as the coal trucks were forced to dump the coal in the road. Drivers didn’t see the dumped coal and drove into the coal heaps.
    A truck was torched in front of the Bethal police station early on Monday morning. The driver had a narrow escape when he heard voices; he heard a window breaking and saw a petrol bomb being thrown into the truck. He managed to escape and raised the alarm.
    On Monday morning the fires were lit very early and the roads closed off again. The community were dispersed by the SAPS members but kept on returning. The Baanbreker road was a particular problem. The group again mobilised the rest of the community by calling “Soldier! Soldier!” meaning that they continued with forceful mobilisation.
    One of The Bulletin’s informants was speaking to the Editor when they knocked on his door. “I fear for my life,” he said.
    Some residents marched to town and continued their protest actions close to the magisterial court.
    They demanded that the 35 odd members that were arrested by the police be released without bail and that the gang members be handed over to them so that the community could deal with them.
    Calm has been restored in eMzinoni following the unrest related to gangs.
    Police led by Brigadier Sifiso Cele, Cluster Commander, met with various stakeholders and community members in an attempt to resolve the matter.
    Residents told Brigadier Cele that they decided to take the law into their own hands because they have lost confidence in the police.
    They accused the police of various misconducts and brutality.
    Brigadier Cele urged them to calm down and give them a chance to do the right thing. He said that those who have grievances against the police, can report to IPID.
    About 35 people were arrested for public violence and nine alleged gang members were arrested.
    The Bulletin was informed that the bail application of the persons that were arrested will be heard on Thursday, 22 August.

    eMzinoni erupts in violence