“There were tyres burning in the street and it was impossible to get in and out of the township”
I think people were angry because they felt like no one was paying attention to them. There were tyres burning in the street and it was impossible to get in and out of the township. The police were trying really hard to stop the protesters, but when they refused to calm down everything went haywire. I was scared – I stayed in my house the whole day and refused to go out into the street.Traces of protests in Walmer Township. Photo by our Observer Siphokazi Mtengwana.They also attacked and vandalised all the Somali-run shops in the township. There are some people who feel that the Somali immigrants do not belong here. Now almost all of the stores here have shut down. There are only two or three that are still open, and they only have a limited stock. Now, if you need to buy something, you have to travel a very far distance to get into the city.While I think the protests went too far on Tuesday, I also understand why people are angry. I live in Walmer Township. I see people with no homes, I see people still using the bucket system, I see people with no food, and I see the gravel on the unpaved roads. The services they are asking for are long overdue.
“There’s a mood of frustration over all of the broken promises to bring services to Walmer”
The residents of Walmer Township were made promises by the local government that they would be given electricity, running water and other basic services, because they basically live in third world conditions. But it never seems to happen.The protests took place on a road that runs past the township and also serves as one of the city’s main arteries. There was quite a bit of disruption and traffic jams because of it. Some people couldn’t get out of the area to get to work. But I suppose that’s part of the reason why they chose to do it there.From my house I could hear what sounded like the police firing rubber bullets and water cannons at people, and I could of course hear the protesters chanting. I took a walk to Walmer, and saw that there was a huge police presence. Protesters were also singing and doing the Toyi -toyi, a form of dance. There’s a mood of frustration over all of the broken promises to bring services to Walmer.Scorched entrance to a store. Photo by our Observer Siphokazi Mtengwana.Sadly, there’s also been an element of criminality to the protests. A number of shops belonging to people who come from outside of South Africa were broken into and looted. It appears to be the product of xenophobia. The protest movement has tried to distance themselves from the acts.