Mon. Jan 20th, 2020

Alex Total Shutdown: Protesters move to block Johannesburg N3 highway

Alex Total ShutdownA large number of protesters are moving towards the N3 highway via London Road.

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Protesters involved in the Alexandra Total Shutdown movement
are making their way onto the N3 highway north of Johannesburg.

This is the latest word from Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) spokesperson, Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar, who cautioned motorists travelling in the area. The protest, which began shortly before dawn on Wednesday, has gathered momentum and is threatening to spill out of the bounds of Alexandra township.

Alex Total Shutdown gains traction

The African National Congress (ANC) in Ward 105 has endorsed
the uprising but has also called for peaceful protest, in which no government
infrastructure is to be destroyed. Ward 105 Councillor, Tefo Raphadu, has
called on City of Johannesburg mayor, Herman Mashaba, to come forward and
address disgruntled community members.

Alexandra police spokesperson, Captain Stephen Malatji confirmed that, despite numerous arrests, the situation still remained volatile. Minaar added that the JMPD was doing everything in its power to prevent protesters from accessing the N3 highway, adding that officers were on standby to deal with the growing dissidence.

Protesters head for Johannesburg N3 highway

According to eyewitness reports, a large number of protesters, who had previously barricaded all entry points into Alexandra, are moving towards the N3 highway via London Road. While the Gautrain station in Marlboro Park is reportedly operational, movement in and out of the area has been restricted.

Shortly before midday, in an attempt to drive back
protesters and disperse the gathering crowds, law enforcement opened fire with
rubber bullets. While there have been reports of violence, no serious injuries
have occurred as a result.

Mayor Mashaba speaks

Mashaba, reluctant to meet protesters on their own turf, has addressed the media. The mayor of Johannesburg – a municipality governed by the Democratic Alliance – has blasted the ANC for supporting the disruptive protest. Mashaba argues that the ANC inflamed tensions and masterminded the protest action as part of an electioneering ploy. Mashaba also said:

“I deeply sympathise with the challenges experienced by the residents of Alex.”

Mashaba has also blamed the influx of foreign nationals to
the area as a major source of strain on embattled infrastructure. Protesters
are calling for basic service delivery, highlighting the illegal occupation of
land, lack of housing and municipal assistance as main sources of discontent.

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