Sowetan: ‘Stay off our land, Premier’ – angry protesters block highway

‘Stay off our land, Premier’ – angry protesters block highway

05 December 2008
Mhlaba Memela

Protests against the controversial proposal to develop vast tracts of Macambini land for tourism turned ugly yesterday when thousands of demonstrators blocked the N2 freeway and pelted motorists with stones.

Fifteen people were arrested and 12 others seriously injured, community leader Khanyisani Shandu said.

He accused the police of using “live ammunition” on his people and said KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sbu Ndebele “has declared war and ordered police to shoot innocent people who are only defending what is rightfully theirs”.

The cops said only five people were arrested but Shandu was adamant.

“Fifteen people were arrested by the police and 12 had to be taken to hospital for serious injuries. They were fired on by the police,” he said.

Police spokesman Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said about 3000 people set up barricades at several bridges along the N2 freeway and were “very violent”.

Mdunge said the police initially used pepper spray to try to disperse the protesters. When that failed they used rubber bullets.

The protesters threw stones at motorists and set up barricades of burning tyres in a bid to get Ndebele and Dubai-based developer Ruwaad to withdraw their proposed R44billion Amazulu-World Tourism project.

In a memorandum handed in for Ndebele, the protesters accused him of “trying to steal the land belonging to the people of Macambine [so he can] sell it to the Dubai people for his own benefit”.

They gave him seven days in which to respond to their demands to withdraw the Ruwaad project.

Ndebele said: “I do do not understand why the community is marching. There has been no agreement on the project. It is just a proposal.

“We met the community and explained to them that this is a proposed development with private investors.

“The process of consultation will continue and people have a right to accept or reject the project.”