CONTINUOUS service delivery protests by informal settlement dwellers in Soshanguve have claimed two lives following a clash with train commuters who were prevented from leaving the area.
The two were killed at Marry Me informal settlement near Block VV in Soshanguve during a service delivery protest allegedly by train commuters after protesters vandalised the railway line. Residents are demanding water, mobile toilets, roads and the formalisation of their informal settlement.
The protests have been recurring every week for a month. “They have genuine concerns. Water is life. The rainy season is coming and it is difficult to get around the area when there are no roads,” one resident said.
The protests have affected business operations in the area and many people have been unable to commute between work and home. It, however, escalated on Tuesday when the train commuters retaliated.
This after the train which passes the informal settlement to Kopanong station was forced to stop due to the violence. “Soshanguve SAPS together with public order policing were summoned about 8.30pm to calm a volatile situation by irate residents who closed the Hebron Road with rocks and burning tyres complaining of RDP houses and electricity,” Const Zanele Mtsweni said.
He said upon arrival they found four males lying near the railway line between Marry me and Block VV. The men, aged between 35 and 40 years old, had sustained visible head and facial injuries. One had already died when examined by paramedics, while three were taken to hospital where another died yesterday morning.
The police said the motive for the attacks remains unclear and no arrests had been made as yet. Eyewitnesses, however, said the men got into a fight with a group of commuters who had been walking back from the station after train operations were halted.
A video posted online shows a group of men burning shacks. “This incident was bound to happen. We are sorry that people died but they were looking for it,” a man said.
He said that the protestors themselves had been using the protests for criminal activities. “Last week, the protesters set a truck alight at the Changing Spot informal settlement. They then robbed it of its contents,” the man said.
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