Category Archives: Jeff Wicks

The Times: Man dies in Durban ‘war zone’ land invasion clash

Jeff Wicks, The Times

A man has died in clashes between the eThekwini Municipality’s security services and shack dwellers in eMansenseni‚ near Mariannhill‚ west of Durban.

Several people were also injured in the incident.

Shack dwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo described the skirmish as a “serious attack” and said the scene looked like “a war zone”.

In a statement issued on Tuesday night‚ the movement said that members of the Land Invasion Unit had attempted to disperse a crowd.  Continue reading

The Times: I was just playing with him and then the gas came inside’ – father of dead infant

‘I was just playing with him and then the gas came inside’ – father of dead infant

Jeff Wicks And Nivashni Nair | 29 May, 2017, The Times

A teargas canister had been fired into the settlement‚ in Sydenham‚ as police tried to disperse protesting residents.

“I was just playing with him and then the gas came inside. My wife went out to see what was happening but then all the smoke was inside‚” Khoza said. He said his infant child was unable to breathe.

Mercury: Protesters arrested, injured – N2 holiday blockade threat

http://www.themercury.co.za/?fArticleId=4746970

Protesters arrested, injured
N2 holiday blockade threat

December 05, 2008 Edition 2

NATHI OLIFANT, JEFF WICKS & MDUDUZI MALAZA

THE December tourism boom on the North Coast could be under threat from the Macambini community, which blockaded the N2 and R102 routes yesterday.

At least 10 people were arrested and several were injured when hundreds of rioting local people clashed with police officers trying to open the road.

Tourism officials fear that disruptions to traffic could cost the North Coast corridor millions of rands in tourist revenue.

The Macambini residents were protesting against the failure of Premier S’bu Ndebele’s office to respond to a memorandum of grievances, which had a seven-day ultimatum. The document was handed over last week. The resi- dents had threatened to disrupt traffic to create an economic crisis unless they were responded to.

At the centre of their grievances is a multibillion-rand development led by a Dubai-based company, which is earmarked for the Macambini area. If the project goes ahead, about 8 500 families will be uprooted.

Meanwhile, a Tourism KwaZulu-Natal manager said: “The area is one of our biggest revenue generators because of the game and wetland areas it contains. If such incidents continue unabated, we are in for a bumpy ride this season. We hope the authorities will attend to this.”

KZN Trade and Investment chief executive Zamo Gwala said the project, tentatively named AmaZulu World, could have many benefits.

“Obviously, you needn’t look away from the people’s needs because this needs their buy-in, but I believe this will be managed well,” he said.

Both carriageways of the N2 were affected as the unruly crowd stoned passing and stationary vehicles, resulting in several kilometres of backed-up traffic. Several motorists reported that their cars had been damaged. Logs and burning tyres were used to block traffic.

Local police, who were initially outnumbered, said the chaos began from 5.45am when protesters blocked the north-bound carriageway between Mandeni and the Dokodweni Toll Plaza, forcing the authorities to divert traffic past Nyoni to the R102. However, both carriageways of the R102 heading north were also later blocked.

Members of the Flying Squad assisted by removing objects from the freeway.

Police believe the chaos was well planned, as protesters staged blockades in at least six areas.

Officers fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd and 12 people were injured. Four were admitted to hospital.

Police Insp Mbongeni Mdlalose said three people had been arrested at Gingindlovu and three at Nyoni, near Mandeni. A further four men and a woman were arrested at Gingindlovu last night, said Mdlalose.

Police expected the confrontation to last well into the night.

“Once people are confronted by police, they scatter and regroup elsewhere. Police will be monitoring the situation through the night. The initial charge against those arrested is public violence, but we are not ruling out additional charges such as malicious damage to property,” he said.

Macambini community committee member Khanyisani Shandu said the committee had not instigated yesterday’s action – people had carried out the resolution reached at a previous meeting to resort to blockades if the premier did not respond to their grievances.

“We will hold a meeting with the whole community on Sunday to chart the way forward,” he said last night.

The ANC condemned the protests, with provincial ANC secretary- general Senzo Mchunu calling them “unfortunate and unnecessary”.

Mchunu said while they were aware that the proposed development had given rise to certain concerns in the community, the stone-throwing and blockading of the N2 created potential danger for innocent motorists and could not be condoned.

“The government has no intention of forcing any development programme on any community, including the community of Macambini, and thus their protest is unwarranted. We believe that no problem can be solved through violence, and call on the government and the community to engage with each other to clear up the present confusion regarding the proposed development,” said Mchunu.

Mercury: Fires ravage KwaZulu-Natal

http://www.themercury.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=4587650

10 people feared dead
Fires ravage KwaZulu-Natal

September 01, 2008 Edition 1

Sinegugu Ndlovu, Jeff Wicks, COLLEEN DARDAGAN, LATOYA NEWMAN & SAPA

Ten people are thought to have been killed by several fires in KwaZulu-Natal at the weekend.

Among the dead is an elderly man and his wife. The 85-year-old man and his 58-year-old wife died when fire engulfed their home in Madesheni, near Nkandla.

Authorities yesterday urged motorists to avoid using roads to Melmoth and Eshowe.

Melmoth protection services officer Derek Horne urged motorists not to use the R66 and R34 routes, warning that flames were jumping across the road in some areas.

“It’s like a war zone here. The fires are out of control. Please tell motorists to stay away,” he said.

KwaZulu-Natal Fire Protection Association operations manager Simon Thomas said there were several bush fires sweeping across the Midlands.

“At the moment, we have a large fire out of control in the Dargle area, near Howick. We have been fighting the blaze for the past two days and, so far, we have been able to hold it away from homesteads and farm houses,” said Thomas.

“We are also attending to fires in Underberg, Bergville, Richmond, Greytown and another near Sevenoaks. It’s been a crazy day with fires all over the place. There were three fires we couldn’t attend to because we didn’t have the manpower and they were too dangerous to fight,” he said.

Pietermaritzburg emergency services spokesman Vasu Naidoo said a workshop in Crammond was razed yesterday.

“We have distributed our resources and vehicles to all the fires, but at the moment we are stretched,” he said. “We have several calls outstanding because we just don’t have the manpower. The wind is causing havoc at the moment and we are hoping that it will die down as the night progresses.”

Naidoo said that no casualties had been reported.

Police were also investigating the cause of the crash of a fire-bomber plane soon after it took off near Melmoth on Saturday, killing the pilot.

Capt Justice Khumalo said the plane had experienced difficulty and had crashed into trees, killing New Zealander Don Ussher, 68. Ussher had taken off to engage in fire fighting duty in the heavily forested area of Babanango.

Homeless

In Durban, several people were left homeless when a fire gutted the top story of Dalton hostel early yesterday.

Community leader Steve Thusi said that about 25 men, who were all asleep when the fire broke out, lost everything they owned. “When they woke up, the room was already on fire, they just ran out. Some didn’t even stop to put clothes on. They have lost everything.” he said. “I just thank God that no one was injured. We are making an appeal to anyone who can help us with blankets, or even a place for these people to sleep, to please come forward.”

Thusi said he was concerned as many had lost their identity documents.

“This is a problem. I am appealing to the home affairs department to make a special plan to assist these people,” he said.

A fire department spokesman, Alfred Newman, said the cause of the fire was unknown.

In response to inquiries from firefighters, Thusi said the fire hoses and extinguishers for the building had all been removed.

“We need to hold a meeting about this. There were hoses, but the guys used them to wash their taxis, so the council took them away. We must also see that extinguishers are installed.”

Newman confirmed that another fire had broken out at the Kennedy Road informal settlement, also early yesterday, when more than 80 shacks were destroyed.

“Fortunately no one was injured, but about 200 people have been displaced,” he said.

Settlement leader Muzi Mdlalose said it was suspected that the fire had started when a candle fell over in a shack.

“We suspect that more than 150 people have lost their homes, but this will be confirmed as we register the families in need,” said Mdlalose.

An eThekwini disaster management official said the council would provide affected people with food and blankets.

He said fires at an Isipingo informal settlement on Saturday morning and another at Myhill Place settlement in Sea Cow Lake that night had left at least 250 people displaced.

Government officials are to visit affected areas today to assess the damage.