Six arrested for jobs protests at Gugulethu Mall

29 10 2009

Crowd says gathering was peaceful

October 29, 2009 Edition 2
THANDANANI MHLANGA – Cape Argus

SIX PEOPLE were today arrested at the opening of the new Gugulethu Square mall, which has been plagued by ongoing protests over jobs.

Gugulethu residents have been protesting against job allocation at the mall, claiming that people from Khayelitsha make up the bulk of the workforce.
During the protest outside the mall today, police fired rubber bullets at the demonstrators and arrested the six for allegedly threatening mall customers.

Some of the protesters were slightly wounded.

Shortly afterwards, the group gathered outside the Gugulethu police station, demanding to know why police had shot at them.

Gugulethu police communication’s officer, Captain Elliot Sinyangana, said the six people were arrested for brandishing stones and rubbish bins outside the mall.

He said that a crowd protesting outside the mall yesterday had been warned about threatening behaviour.

“We warned them that they were denied access into the mall, and after they failed to listen police fired rubber bullets to disperse them.”

Kingston Chauke, one of the protesters, said that they had been sitting at least 40 metres from the mall, to show that the gathering was peaceful.

“The next thing we knew they were shouting: ‘Stand up, stand up’, and they started shooting at us without warning,” he said.

One of the wounded protesters, Bongani Cweya, said that they had given no reason for the police to open fire. They also claimed that police had assaulted one of the six who were arrested.

The protesters say that they were infuriated when they discovered a rubbish bin full of their discarded CVs at the back of the mall this morning.

Earlier this week, the protesting residents alleged that they had been sidelined by the mall because Khayelitsha residents had bribed their way into jobs.

After their brief protest outside the police station today, the protesters were told that they had 10 minutes to disperse. Police were still patrolling the outside perimeters of the mall by the time the protesters had left to plan their next move.

Bafana Mabhizela, another of the community members, said that they would meet again today to decide when to protest again, and that they were hoping to do so on Saturday or Sunday.

He vowed that they would continue the protest and would boycott the mall unless they were given 80 percent of the jobs at the mall.

Mall management could not be reached for comment at the time of going to press.

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