At least 15 injured as violence erupts in Westbury


Residents throw petrol bombs during protest, police fire rubber bullets

Photo of burning tyres in street
Residents of Westbury in Johannesburg, were in a standoff with police on Monday morning. The residents were protesting about crime and lack of policing in the area. Photo: Zoe Postman

At least 15 people were wounded by police rubber bullets as violence erupted on Monday in Westbury in Johannesburg.

Hundreds of residents were protesting against crime and lack of policing in the area.

The protests started on Friday morning after a woman and a girl were caught in crossfire between three men the previous day. The woman was shot dead and the girl was injured. Two suspects have been arrested.

On Monday angry residents used burning tyres, rubbish and rocks to block the roads. Some residents threw petrol bombs at the police. The police retaliated by firing rubber bullets and teargas. Police officers were seen shooting into people’s homes as the residents ran for cover. GroundUp saw at least 15 people with rubber bullet wounds, some of them in the face. The injured were mostly men. A few teenagers were also injured. One man was shot twice in the forehead. The police picked him up in a Nyala to take him to an emergency service.

Westbury resident Dominic Louw told GroundUp that shootings in the area were usually between drug dealers fighting for their territories.

He said residents had decided to protest again on Monday because another man had been shot in the early hours of Monday morning in spite of police presence in the area.

“We are here today to claim our Westbury back and make sure this never happens again,” he said.

Adrian Marillier, one of the elders in the community, called on the Gauteng Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Community Safety, Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, and President Cyril Ramaphosa to address the community and offer solutions to the violence.

“We are asking them to come here and help us. It cannot go on like this … If they don’t, this protest will escalate and continue indefinitely. We are not threatening, but we are in the centre of Johannesburg and we will take it further than this and the violence will escalate,” he said.

The residents marched to Sophiatown police station where they were addressed by Gauteng provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Deliwe de Lange.

Commissioner de Lange told the community that she had ordered the police to stop shooting at residents. She urged everyone who had been injured during the protest to open a case at Sophiatown police station.

De Lange also promised residents that the other two suspects involved in Thursday’s shooting would be arrested by the end of the day. (At the time of publication we are unable to explain the apparent discrepancy that three men were involved in the shooting, two have been arrested and yet two more, as opposed to one more, are expected to be arrested.)

MEC Nkosi-Malobane is expected to visit the area on Tuesday.

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TOPICS:  Policing

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