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RAMESH
09-10-2007, 05:10 PM
N2 protesters dispersed
http://www.sabcnews.com/article/images/0,1059,46558,00.gif September 10, 2007, 12:45


The N2 area near Langa was a no go zone for hours this morning when police clashed with demonstrators who had disrupted traffic, leading to scores of people being injured and a number of protesters arrested.
Peak-hour traffic was thrown into chaos when traffic authorities closed the N2 when a demonstration by a crowd that grew to about 2 000 turned violent.

Police were shot at and pelted with stones as they battled to contain the protest and tried to reopen the highway.
Police fired rubber bullets into the crowd which began gathering at 4am and tried to set fire to houses in the N2 Gateway housing project.
A nursing sister in the trauma unit at Vanguard Day Hospital in Bonteheuwel said they had treated about 50 protesters by 11am. Most of them needed stitches and three had been referred to Somerset Hospital with serious injuries.
"We are very busy. People of all ages have been coming in, mostly with 'rubber bullet cuts'."
The protest comes after residents of the Joe Slovo informal settlement demonstrated outside Parliament recently and threatened to close the N2 if their demands regarding housing were not met.
Joe Slovo residents, supported by the Anti-Eviction Campaign, demanded that the government stop forcibly relocating them to Delft to make space for the further development of the N2 Gateway.
This morning, national Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu cancelled a scheduled address at a Master Builders conference in Cape Town to attend to problems at N2 Gateway, said Monwabisi MacLean, chief communications director of the national Housing Department.
He said the government had been continually engaging with residents from the Joe Slovo informal settlement.
After a brief lull early this morning, violence erupted again as roving groups of protesters tried to access the N2 at Langa.
Pockets of Metro policemen sprinted from site to site firing rubber bullets to prevent the crowd reaching the N2 near the Langa indoor sports complex.
A massive bonfire was lit at the entrance to Langa, blocking traffic going in and out of the suburb.
The outgoing lanes of the N2 remained closed to traffic until mid-morning, when traffic resumed, albeit slowly, on the N2 where a long line of police vehicles were parked on the road shoulder.
Tension built yet again on an open space next to the N2 Gateway project where protesters gathered and were confronted by police, who at 11.15am issued an order for them to disperse.
Police formed a line with their backs to the N2. They held their ground as portions of the crowd sang, danced and marched up and down in front of them. Then rocks started flying through the air and police began shooting rubber bullets and stun grenades.
As the shots and stun grenades thundered around them, the crowd scattered, running between the houses beyond the open space as policement followed in hot pursuit.
Shortly later the ground had been cleared and policemen brought people they had arrested back to their vehicles.
A woman, wounded on the left side of her head and around her eye, cried as she was dragged back to the police line.
People hiding in bushes were found and arrested by police.
The chaos on the highway meant thousands of commuters were late for work in the city centre.
Approach roads to Cape Town International Airport were also blocked, but the protest did not have an impact on operations, said Airports Company spokeswoman Deidre Hendricks.
In this morning's chaos both incoming and outgoing lanes of the N2 were blocked between Jan Smuts and Vanguard drives.
Sections of Vanguard Drive were also closed to traffic.
Incoming commuters were stopped at Vanguard Drive and diverted to Klipfontein Road to the south and Voortrekker Road to the north of the N2.
Outgoing traffic was similarly diverted off the N2 at Jan Smuts Avenue, creating a nightmare for motorists bound for the airport.
The traffic back-up caused several cars to collide as vehicles travelling at 120km/h suddenly encountered the congestion.
Mayor Helen Zille declined to comment on the protest or the reasons for it, saying that she was told it had to do with the N2 Gateway housing project and that it was an issue with which the provincial government had been dealing.
Housing MEC Richard Dyantyi described the protests as being about "narrow individual interests" that could not be allowed to stop the development.

Dyantyi said the development of the N2 Gateway pilot project "necessitated" the relocation of residents of informal settlements to temporary housing.
"Due communication processes have been followed with community leaders and residents.
"Development will continue and cannot be thwarted by narrow individual interests," he said. Additional reporting by Lindsay Dentlinger, Andisiwe Makinana