Residents of Alexandra awoke to an eerie quiet on Thursday
morning, following a day of vicious protest which effectively shut down the oldest
township in Johannesburg.
As reported by EWN, organisers of the protest, who were vehement in their approach on Wednesday, had called for an end to the demonstration, citing serious ‘security concerns’. The Alex Total Shutdown movement was due to continue for as long as necessary – until mayor Herman Mashaba
Threats of deadly ‘security forces’
Yet, despite earlier promises to continue the campaign, event
organiser, Sandile Mavundla, got cold feet on Wednesday night, after allegedly receiving
word of dangerous security forces which had been outsourced to quell any
further dissidence. Speaking to Eye Witness News, Mavundla explained:
“There’s a private security company that’s waiting for us, so we don’t want to risk the lives of the people.”
Mavundla, however, pointed out that the protest movement –
which stands as a call to action against inadequate service delivery, rampant crime
and illegal land occupations – would soldier on to the Union Building. The
organiser also hit back at detractors who have attached a political undertone
to the movement.
Alex Total Shutdown: Political showboating?
This political element is hard to ignore; the African
National Congress (ANC) in Ward 105, led by councillor Tefo Raphadu, openly
endorsed the protest, blaming mayor Mashaba for the residents’ discontent. Mashaba
also did little to alleviate the political fight, by blaming ANC corruption and
mismanagement for the strife in Alexandra. The City of Johannesburg township,
now under the municipal administration of the Democratic Alliance (DA), would need
time to heal from the wounds inflicted by the ANC government, said Mashaba.
Mashaba, who ultimately refused to meet with protesters,
leading to a swelling sense of dissatisfaction, said that he sympathised with
the trials and tribulations experienced by the residents of Alexandra.
At the height of the protest, City of Johannesburg Member of
the Mayoral Committee for Community Safety, Michael Sun, attempted to address the
fired-up crowd. He was shouted down and mocked – protesters wanted an address from
Mashaba, directly – Sun, who couldn’t get a word in, had to eventually retire
to the safety of a police nyala.
The Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) struggled to contain the protests, which eventually spilt out of the township and onto the N3 highway, causing major traffic delays. Shortly before rush hour on Wednesday, two northbound lanes had been reopened, allowing for slow-moving traffic to flow.