12 May 2017, Port Elizabeth: Residents of the northern areas of Port Elizabeth say criminal elements are fuelling protests and even planning to kill policemen.
Live ammunition was used to shoot at officers during chaotic protests on Thursday in Helenvale during which one person was killed and at least two injured. Vehicles were stoned as protesters gathered at "die gaat" in the centre of Helenvale, notorious for its drug and gang activities.
For all of Thursday police blocked off Standford Road at the Gail Road intersection. Heavily armed police were out in full force and a police nyala on patrol.
A man who did not want to be named out of fear told ANA that he had been stopped by young men who had asked for a lift to the nearby hospital.
“Two of them got into the car and I saw blood. A young man was shot in the side of the neck and I just thought: a life is at stake here. I told them to put him in the car and I drove. I was just being a good Samaritan and I needed to get him as quickly as possible to hospital.”
The source said that the safety of schoolchildren in the Helenvale area could not be guaranteed and parents were anxious.
Pupils at Gelvandale High School were seen at break time on Thursday gathering near the school fence to watch protesters edging closer to a police entourage.
Residents in the northern areas have been protesting all week over unemployment and a lack of opportunities for local small businesses.
In a media statement, police spokesperson Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg said that police had arrested four suspects, aged between 15 and 17, on charges of public violence.
Janse van Rensburg confirmed that a 23-year-old man had died as a result of being shot in the neck.
“A number of private vehicles and four police vehicles were damaged. Several members sustained light injuries but were not hospitalised.
"Police fired rubber bullets and while [they were] concentrating on curbing the violence, members of gangs in the area took advantage of the situation and fired shots at the police members deployed,” Janse van Rensburg said.
“Two more people were injured and it is alleged that a 27-year-old male was shot in his hand and a 24-year-old male was injured by a rubber bullet.
A murder and two cases of attempted murder will be investigated by Ipid [Independent Police Investigative Directorate]. Cases of malicious damage to property have also been opened,” she said.
Earlier this week, Port Elizabeth mayor Athol Trollip met residents at the Helenvale Resource Centre
The mayor’s spokesperson, Sbongile Dimbaza, said that a list of 40 grievances related to service delivery was submitted by residents and Trollip took an undertaking to respond to this by Friday.
Dimbaza said that it was strange residents were protesting while waiting for feedback from the mayor.
“It would appear that the protests are motivated by criminal or political elements,” he said.
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