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Uneducated citizenry is like a pitch any game can be played on it. Illiteracy is what has given the politicians in Ghana the chance to fool so many people for so a long a time.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Unravelling of South Africa

The streets of Port Alfred turned into a war zone yesterday when police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at striking municipal workers, writes David Macgregor of Dispatch Online. He took these pictures:

In a scene reminiscent of the politically turbulent 1980s, the Dispatch saw terrified protestors chased by police – some still firing rubber bullets – across the Kowie River and arrested, some more than a kilometre away.

Shocked bystanders watched as a convoy of police – with squealing tyres and blaring sirens – raced up to nearby Station Hill and rounded up people hiding in bushes and a private house.

Port Alfred’s station commissioner, Senior Superintendent Lizette Zeelie said several attempts over the past three days to negotiate with protesters not to damage public property had fallen on deaf ears.

“We met with the shop stewards and agreed the protests would be peaceful. We warned them several times about complaints from the community, but they did not stick to the rules.”

She said since the strike had begun, protesters had illegally blocked roads including the R72, smashed concrete rubbish bins and street signs and broken glass bottles on the streets.

Zeelie said police decided on a no-nonsense approach on Tuesday night after protesters burned rubbish inMain Street, and called East London’s crack Crime Combating Unit (CCU) in to help.

Claims that police told striking workers to disperse were disputed by angry shop steward Patrick Jokani.

“We were on our way back to the municipal workshop when they attacked us without warning. It was like the 1980s … they hunted people down and even shot at our backs as we ran away.”

He denied there was any public violence, claiming the marches over the past three days had been “peaceful”.

The 19 men and two women arrested by police are expected to appear in court on charges of public violence and destruction of property.

The crackdown came as President Jacob Zuma yesterday warned that violent protesters would be arrested, after a wave of anti-poverty demonstrations rattled the country over the last two weeks.

“People have the right to protest but not to interfere with the rights of others, so violence and trashing is not allowed,” Zuma told a press conference.

“It is important that they should be arrested. There can be no justification for public violence and the destruction of property,” he said.

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