A 26-year-old Ethiopian shopkeeper was burnt alive and two people were shot and injured in a violent service delivery protest that began in Groutville, KwaZulu-Natal on Monday night and continued throughout Tuesday, North Coast Courier reports.
Residents of Thembeni have been without electricity since last Thursday, and Groutville and Tshawini were also blacked out for several days.
A number of reports from the community and KDM employees suggested that KDM electricians were on strike due to cuts in their overtime. They are apparently unhappy about contractors being appointed to do a job they were previously paid to do.
Although KwaDukuza municipality media liaison officer, Sipho Mkhize denied this, he admitted that a meeting between the unions and KDM officials was set to hopefully resolve the overtime issue.
A source confirmed this meeting would take place on Wednesday (today).
He said KDM have sent electricians out to all the affected areas.
“A transformer failed, but we are on the ground to ensure that everything gets back on track,” said Mkhize.
Protesters blocked the R102 on Monday night with burning tyres, tree branches and broken bottles. On Tuesday morning the protest spread to the N2 highway.
Police used rubber bullets on Tuesday morning to disperse the mob of about 400 people from the N2.
Residents started to throw stones at the police and threatened to stone cars.
“We have had no power since Thursday and no one bothered to explain as to what went wrong and when the problem will be solved. We tried to speak with our ward councillor Innocent Nxumalo but he avoids us,” said a Thembeni resident.
Residents said they were forced to eat all their refrigerated food as it was spoiling. Meanwhile, Ethiopian Adebo Abera was sleeping at his brother’ shop, Sizabantu Supermarket, near the Luthuli Museum when the shop was set alight by people reportedly trying to loot the shop.
“We are confused as to why they burnt the shop. My heart is broken into pieces,” said Abera’s brother, Emmanual.
Two people were also shot by a motorist on the R102 in Groutville on Monday night.
“One of the victims was a protester and the other was an on-duty security guard for a nearby business. One person was shot in the leg and another in the back,” said Paul Herbst from IPSS Medical Rescue.
KwaDukuza police spokesperson Sibusiso Khuzwayo said no one had been arrested but a case of murder and attempted murder would be opened.