JMPD officer injured during violent service delivery protest in Lenasia South

A senior Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) officer was hospitalised after he sustained a head injury during violent protests over service delivery in Lenasia South, south of Johannesburg, on Friday morning.

JMPD spokesperson Wayne Minnaar said the superintendent was hit on his head with a stone while he and other officers were responding to the protests which had turned violent. A JMPD vehicle was also damaged during the fracas.

Protesters who had blockaded the Golden Highway were pelting vehicles with stones and prevented some from accessing the main road. Parts of streets in Lenasia South were barricaded with various objects by the demonstrators.

"The superintendent was on the scene when protesters charged at his vehicle, throwing stones and other objects, and he was hit on his head. He was rushed to hospital," said Minnaar.

Many vehicles were left stranded on the side of the road, their drivers hoping the situation would calm down as residents of both Phumula Mqashi and Hospital Hills informal settlements protested on Friday morning. Some cars turned back as they were ordered not to leave the area.

The protest began in the early hours of the morning and forced many shops and filling stations in the area to remain closed.

Protesters demanded to speak to a senior official from either the City of Johannesburg or the Gauteng government, before they would leave.

Rubber bullets and teargas

Police later opened fire on protesters using rubber bullets and teargas canisters, hoping to disperse the large crowd of demonstrators who had descended on the Golden Highway. Some people sustained injuries after being hit by rubber bullets.

Protesters retaliated by throwing stones at the police.

The disgruntled residents later returned in a large group to the Golden Highway, after being told by their leaders that an official from the City was on the way to receive their memorandum.

Lenasia South police spokesperson Sergeant Khalipha Mvula said they had arrested one person for public violence.

Mvula said police had received reports that only two people were taken to hospital after they sustained injuries from rubber bullets.

"Initially we were told earlier that residents would march to the municipal offices to deliver their memorandum. But we were shocked when they started blockading roads, demonstrating. They have damaged road signs and traffic robots. We are going to monitor the situation until calm is restored," he said.

Alfred Mxunya, the local South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) representative, said residents were provoked by Mayor Herman Mashaba who prioritised Meriting informal settlement – which is outside Lenasia South – for development ahead of Phumula Mqashi and Hospital Hills.

READ: 'Health facilities under attack' – City of Joburg on break in at Lenasia clinic

"We demand equal treatment from the mayor. Some residents of Meriting have recently arrived in their area and are being promised electricity, while those in Phumula Mqashi are ignored. How can residents of Phumula Mqashi be verified by the City if they are being ignored?" he asked.

In their memorandum, residents have accused their ward councillor Vinay Choonie of being racist, corrupt and lacking transparency in his dealings with the community. They also claimed he was personally involved in development projects.

They demanded the construction of roads and stormwater drains, as well as the electrification of Phumula Mqashi, parts of Hospital Hills, Vlakfontein and ZCC Park. They also demanded the electrification of 20 RDP houses in Hospital Hills.

Adviser in the officer of the speaker in the City, Raymond Arends, accepted the memorandum under heavy police guard and promised to deliver it to the relevant officials.