Enough! SA fuel price hikes spark protests

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Colleta Dewa

Johannesburg - The continued rise in the price of fuel has sparked violent protests in South Africa, with more demonstration planned.

Police in Durban confirmed the arrest of nine people for public violence following a violent protest against fuel price hikes in KwaZulu Natal (KZN) province.

KZN police spokesperson, Captain Nqobile Gwala confirmed that eight men and a female were arrested in connection with the blockading of the N3 road early Wednesday.

“This morning truck drivers gathered and blockaded the N3 in the Pietermaritzburg area. Approximately 20 trucks parked off and blockaded the N3 freeway.

“All role players were summoned to the scene and the road was cleared in a short space of time. Due to the swift response by police and other role-players a total of nine suspects, eight men and one female, were arrested for public violence,” said Captain Gwala.

Reports from Durban say protesting motorists have blocked off the N3 in Pietermaritzburg and the N2 in Durban, near Chatsworth, demanding reduction in fuel prices.

It is said both carriageways on the N3 in Pietermaritzburg were closed between the New England and Greytown Road intersections.

In Durban, traffic on the N2 south of Durban at the Higginson Highway, which is the main road into Chatsworth, was also blocked.

More blockages were expected on the R102 near Tongaat, north of Durban.

Visvin Reddy of People against Petrol and Paraffin Price Increase (Pappi) said the government could only listen to the concerns of the people if protests spread nationwide.

“This is obviously motorists and people who are demonstrating their anger at the rising fuel costs. This is going to get worse, it is going to escalate,” said Reddy.

Reddy added that his organisation was planning its own mass scale shut down on 27 July countrywide, which was to be the mother of all protests according to him.

“Every road nationally and provincially and even small-town roads will be closed. As you can see, there is growing anger among citizens because the effect of the fuel price increases is harming everybody. It is also affecting the poor. Food prices are going up, transport costs are going up, and salaries and wages are not going up,” he said

He noted that business is going to be affected hugely by the mass action but said that will push the government to act.

“There is going to be casualties. Remember that the solution lies with government. Government must realise the impact that fuel price increases have on the citizens of this country. When government does things that affect people negatively, they must expect a backlash.

“We have taught the people of South Africa that if you want change, you get onto the streets and you protest. That is the only language, it seems, that the authorities understand,” he added.

South Africa has experienced several fuel increases in the past months, with another increase set for the end of July.

The Automobile Association of South Africa earlier said that the recent spikes were impacting on the lives of all South Africans, especially the poorest of the poor who rely on paraffin for heating, lighting and cooking.

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