04 AFS 2
04-08-30 Harrismith



20 children shot in Harrismith protest

August 30, 2004 , 13:54

Twenty children were shot when police tried to disperse a group of protesters on the N3 highway outside Harrismith today, Free State police said.

Paul Kubheka, a police spokesperson, said about 4 500 youths, some called out of schools in the Intabazwe township of Harrismith, descended on the N3 highway this morning to highlight concerns about service delivery in the area.

"Steps were taken to calm them down but they forced their way onto the N3," said Kubheka. "This had serious implications because it is a national road." Kubheka said police opened fire and two youths were hit with pellets one in the leg and another in the hand. "They were already on the road and there was no other way of controlling them," Kubheka said.

Upon visiting a local hospital it was found that 18 other children were admitted after they were also shot with pellets. Kubheka said four other children were admitted with cuts and bruises after they had been pushed against a wire fence during the protest. None of the children were seriously injured. Kubheka said the highway was clear by 1pm but the children had moved into the township where they were setting tyres alight.

The area was being monitored by a large police contingent drawn from all the police units in the surrounding areas. "Police are monitoring the situation. We are trying to avoid a confrontation." Kubheka said the youths called themselves "The Concerned Group" and appeared to be made up of many community organisations. - Sapa


http://www.sabcnews.com/south_africa/crime1justice/0,2172,86796,00.htmlMore than 20 youths arrested for Harrismith riots

August 30, 2004 , 15:00

Free State police have arrested more than 20 youths following riots in which scores of children were injured on the N3 highway outside Harrismith today. Paul Kubheka, a police spokesperson, says the youths were arrested in Intabazwe township today following incidents of tyre burning and stone throwing.

Up to 20 youths were wounded after police used birdshot to stop rioting on the N3 highway.

About 4 000 youths gathered on the N3 to protest against poor service delivery. They then moved into the township and set tyres alight.

Balekile Mzangwa, the mayor of Maluti-a-Phofung municipality, is meeting with community leaders to address the problems.

Police are meanwhile monitoring the area.



24 children hurt, 38 arrested in Harrismith protest

August 30, 2004 , 20:37

More than 20 children were injured when police opened fire on thousands of protesters blocking the N3 highway outside Harrismith today. Paul Kubheka, the Free State police spokesperson, said about 4 500 youths, some called out of schools in the Intabazwe township of Harrismith, descended on the highway this morning to highlight concerns about service delivery in the area.

"Steps were taken to calm them down but they forced their way onto the N3," said Kubheka. "This had serious implications because it is a national road." Kubheka said police opened fire. "They were already on the road and there was no other way of controlling them," Kubheka said.

The children scattered under police fire but 20 were struck by the bullets. They were all admitted to the local hospital along with another four who were cut and bruised when they were pushed against a barbed wire fence during the protest.

However, Kubheka said, the remaining children gathered in the township and started setting tyres alight and stoning police vehicles. Police gave chase and rounded up 38 who were taken to the police station. They would probably be charged with public violence, he said.

The protesters, calling themselves the Greater Harrismith Concern Group and comprising community organisations, met with executive mayor Balekile Mzangwa later today. "The meeting that was held was to address concerns by the group about the way police handled the situation at the N3," Mzangwa said.

He said other issues that were discussed were the reasons why the group made use of an illegal march and not existing structures in the community to raise their concerns. Mzangwa told Sapa today that the Concerned Group's unhappiness was rooted in the perception that infrastructure developments were more prevalent in the nearby Qwaqwa area. - Sapa


Calm returns to Harrismith after day of protests

August 31, 2004 , 06:31

Calm has returned to Intabazwe at Harrismith in the eastern Free State after yesterday's protest action by about 4 000 youths on the N3 near the town.

Thirty-eight youths were arrested for rioting and are expected to appear in the local magistrate's court later this morning. Seven of them are still in custody as they did not have money for bail. The others paid bail ranging fm R100 to R500.

About 20 youths were wounded when the police used birdshot to disperse the crowd when the protest turned violent. The youths were protesting against poor service delivery and claim that QwaQwa receives preferential treatment above the Harrismith area when it comes to development.

Taxis are operating as normal this morning and residents are heading for work.
The police patrolled Intabazwe throughout the night.



ANC to blame for Harrismith riots, says opposition

August 31, 2004 , 18:12

Opposition parties in the Free State today blamed the ruling ANC for this week's riot in Harrismith which led to the death of a 17-year-old youth. "The ANC must take responsibility for the riots that occurred near Harrismith," the Democratic Alliance (DA) said in a statement today. "The lack of communication between the senior management of the Maluti-a-Phofung municipality and the community had been a matter of ongoing concern," the DA said.

"In June 2003 the DA requested the former Free State MEC for local government and housing, Lechesa Tsenoli, to intervene." The DA said the previous municipal manager Kenny Leluma also voiced his concern in a letter to the ANC management in both the eastern Free State region and the province.

Leluma had stated there was a growing feeling that the ANC in the region was not giving the assistance needed to avoid the eminent collapse of corporate governance in Maluti-a-Phofung municipality. The DA said yesterday's riots were an indication that communities were "fed up" with having to pay the price for the ANC's crisis with local governments.

Casper Nordier, the African Christian Democratic Party chairperson, said today: "The boiling over of unpleasantness at Maluti-a-Phofung did not come as a surprise." The party said reports of the Auditor-General on conditions in Free State municipalities did not paint a pleasant picture.

ANC in touch with the situation
However, Pat Matosa, the ANC provincial secretary, said today the ANC was in touch with the situation. "Political parties in the region and the business community have already met amongst themselves and will meet with the mayor and the police on Tuesday," Matosa said.

He said there were plans to meet with the community tomorrow to assess the situation and to talk about the reasons for the riots. "The ANC condemns the use of excessive force by the police in this situation," Matosa said. "It was not necessary despite the volatile situation that prevailed."

Matosa said the municipality must meet the grievances of the community as outlined in a memorandum handed over to them, within the ambit of resources that were available.

The provincial executive committee of the ANC would meet on Monday, September 6, to discuss a report on the matter. "After that we would engage with our comrades at all levels in the province as well as those at the Maluti-a-Phofung municipality," Matosa said. Sapa



Police disperse youths

31/08/2004 13:30  - (SA)  


Bloemfontein - Police have used stun-grenades to disperse a group of about 800 youths who began throwing stones at them in Intabazwe at Harrismith, in the eastern Free State, SABC reported.


Eight youths were arrested on charges of public violence after they threw stones at the police.


The police say most of the youths were dressed in school uniforms.


Violence broke-out on Monday when large crowds of youths barricaded streets and burnt tyres.


They also tried to barricade the N3 route near the town, but were dispersed by police using pellets and rubber bullets.


The youths have been protesting about what they claim is poor service delivery and preferential treatment given to Qwa Qwa by the local municipality at the expense of Intabazwe.


Edited by Tisha Steyn





Teen dies after police action

31/08/2004 14:41  - (SA)  



Harrismith - A 17-year-old boy who was hospitalised after police used rubber bullets to disperse a protesting crowd on the N3 near Harrismith on Monday, died in hospital on Tuesday.


The teenager died from internal bleeding, Free State police spokesperson Annelie Wrensch said.


She said a post mortem would be held to establish the cause of death.


Police arrested 37 people on Tuesday morning in connection with the two-day protests.


On Monday 38 people were arrested when thousands of youths, some called out of schools in the Intabazwe township of Harrismith , descended on the highway to highlight concerns about service delivery in the area.


More than 20 children were injured when police opened fire on the protesters blocking the N3 highway.


Edited by Elmarie Jack




New Riot 'Chaos' By Pupils

Cape Argus ( Cape Town )
September 2, 2004
Posted to the web September 2, 2004

By Gill Gifford

Residents of Harrismith's Intabazwe township, which had calmed yesterday after two days of violent protests, woke today to renewed clashes.

"It's absolute chaos this morning," said Eastern Free State police spokeswoman Captain Veronica Ntepe.

"People are trying to leave their homes and go to work, but school children are trying to stop them by assaulting them, stoning cars and damaging property."

Ntepe said the township had been calm most of yesterday and throughout the night, and the sudden upsurge in violence had been unexpected.

The ongoing unrest began on Monday when The Concerned Group, mostly young people, started protesting against the local council's failure to respond to a memorandum of grievances.

Free State Premier Beatrice Marshoff confirmed she would visit Harrismith today and said she would meet the community and the family of Teboho Mkhonza, 17, who died after being shot with pellets and rubber bullets by police on Monday.



Harrismith in mourning

02/09/2004 07:57  - (SA)  



Police remove barricades from roads in Intabaza township in Harrismith. (Dirk Kok, Volksblad) 



Sibonelo Msomi


Harrismith - Ntabazwe Township in Harrismith was still in flames on Wednesday.


Burning tyres, scrap cars, stones and poles blocked roads as residents who feel neglected by the local Maluting-a-Phofung Municipality demonstrated their anger.


Late on Wednesday residents decided to embark on mass action to bring the township to a standstill - preventing any movement of people in or out.


This is to show that the township is mourning the death of Tebogo Moloi, 17, who died on Monday after being shot by police during a protest march during which a crowd blockaded the N3 demanding government housing subsidies, improved water and electricity services, employment opportunities and development in the impoverished Free State town.


Premier Beatrice Marshoff was warned of possible riots here two weeks ago but the town exploded on Monday before she intervened. Marshoff confirmed this in Bloemfontein yesterday at a provincial meeting with mayors and speakers.


She said her office had been in contact with the Greater Harrismith Concerned Residents (GHCR) group, which complained about poor service from the local council.


"I was still waiting for more information about the issue when the situation got out of hand," said the premier.


On Wednesday, children were sent home early from local schools and joined youths who were positioned on all street corners ready to act on orders to embark on further action.


GHCR chairman Neo Motaung said the situation is potentially explosive until the Marshoff or President Thabo Mbeki intervene.


"We do not trust the mayor, Balekile Mzwango, and his councillors because they have failed us for years. They have failed to install water meters, provide us with free electricity, build low-cost government subsidy houses and create employment opportunities. All they did was to move businesses from Harrismith and develop Qwa Qwa at our expense. There is no development here and we feel the pinch of unemployment," said Motaung.


Motaung said the provincial ANC leadership has conducted a smear campaign against members of the GHCR. As a result, he said, Motaung has been kicked out of the local ANC branch, allegedly because of his role in complaining about poor services in Ntabazwe.

He said the group will aggressively embark on a campaign to force government to listen and respond to their demands.


"We will burn municipal vehicles in the township and destroy their properties if that is what we have to do to get their attention. We have lost patience now and already we have shown that we can mobilise people to bring the area into a standstill. If further action is what will bring our demands to Mbeki's attention, we have the will to do that," he said.


GHCR Organiser Msizi Mavuso said anger is still burning in the township as police continue to assault and insult people in the streets of the township.





Harrismith protest: 5 arrested

03/09/2004 11:19   - (SA)  


Bloemfontein - Five leaders of this week's Harrismith protest action against what has been termed "poor service delivery" were arrested in the early hours of Friday.


Police spokesperson Captain Veronica Ntepe said leading figures in the Greater Harrismith Concerned Residents (GHCR) were taken into custody at 01:00 .


She said the men would appear in court either on Friday or Monday on charges of organising an illegal march and of public violence.


The Intabazwe township at Harrismith was the scene of several violent clashes between community members and police the past three days.


The clashes resulted in the death of a youth.


Free State premier Beatrice Marshoff and her delegation, on a visit to Harrismith on Thursday, also had to flee stone-throwing protesters.


Ntepe said police refused a request for a public meeting on Thursday night by GHCR leaders, as it was made too late.


She said the situation in Intabazwe was under control on Friday morning, but police were maintaining a strong presence in the area.


Edited by Andrea Botha





Harrismith: Shock video

05/09/2004 08:16   - (SA)  


Staff reporters


Johannesburg - Exclusive but shocking video footage in City Press's possession shows how Harrismith police opened fire indiscriminately on demonstrators as they slowly crossed the N3 highway last week and then continued firing at them as they fled for cover.


This move led to the tragic death of 17-year-old Teboho Mkhonza.


The video shows how the toyi-toying group slowly started crossing the highway. The demonstrators were not throwing stones, as some reports claimed, and their numbers were nowhere near the reported 4 500 claimed by police earlier this week.


Before the demonstrators were halfway across the road, police opened fire without any warning. The demonstrators turned and ran for cover.


Police, however, continued to fire at their backs. They also continued shooting as people fell to the ground. The video clearly identifies three police officers firing at the fleeing demonstrators, although more were involved in the shooting.


The footage then shows at least four police officers grappling with a demonstrator and forcibly pushing him into the back of a police van.


In extremely disturbing footage, one then sees a badly injured and bleeding Mkhonza lying on the floor of a police van. Fellow demonstrators locked in the van are visibly upset by police inaction to call an ambulance. Mkhonza wailed in pain and battled to breathe with what looked like a chest wound.


Edited by Tisha Steyn