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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

‘It’s like Bheki Cele was never here, Riverlea is the same’

When the sun goes down, Riverlea residents still fear for their lives.

Hours after police minister Bheki Cele rolled into town with strong words and big promises, residents of Riverlea say nothing much has changed.

Community activist Nomaan Mubarak told The Citizen residents are hoping Cele keeps his promises of restoring calm to the suburb. But if he fails to do so, they will be going back to the streets to protest and make their voices heard.

Riverlea was described as a “warzone” after a weekend of gun battles and protests over illegal mining and zama zamas.

Back to the streets

Mubarak said Riverlea is calms, but the evenings bring fear for lives and safety.

“It’s like Bheki Cele never came here at all. He made promise last night, but there is no police visibility.

“After 24 hours, if we don’t see progress from the promise Bheki Cele made, we as a community will go back to the streets to conduct a peaceful protest” Mubarak said.

Angry and frustrated residents took to the streets early on Monday morning, barricading Main Reef Road with burning tyres and rocks.

ALSO READ: WATCH: ‘There was nothing police could do’- Riverlea resident details the night zama zamas came guns blazing

Lie again minister

During a visit to the area on Monday afternoon, Cele, accompanied by the police’s top brass, promised to deploy specialised units.

“We are putting our heads on the block that within the next 24 hours this community here will know peace. These specialised units are being brought in to ensure we apprehend these illegal miners and put a stop to these illegal operations.”

“Come lie to us again, minister,” and “talk, talk, that’s all you do,” residents shouted as Cele started his address, News24 reported.

N12 protest

Meanwhile, the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) is monitoring the N12 highway near Eldorado Park and Lenasia following volatile service delivery protest that saw cars being stoned.

Angry residents took to the streets on Monday and blocked the arterial highway between Klipspruit Valley Road and the Golden Highway with rocks and burning tyres which caused massive traffic congestion for motorists.

It is understood the protest is due to residents of Slovo Park informal settlement not having access to running tap water.


JMPD spokesperson Xolani Fihla said on Tuesday the N12 had been blocked off to traffic for a second day as community members continue with the protests.

“The closure on the N12 has been on an off. It was reopened at midnight this morning, but it was closed again. Officers were dispatched and they are currently on scene.”

“They managed to open the roads, but traffic is moving slowly between the pedestrian bridge and the Golden Highway. There are reports the protestors are throwing stones at passing vehicles. The situation remains tense and officers will continue to monitor,” Fihla said.

Fihla has advised motorists to use an alternate route if the N12 is closed.

ALSO READ: Cele mobilises specialised units to Riverlea ‘to restore law and order’

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