17 arrested in violent PE protests

Firefighters attend to a truck that was burnt in Motherwell during ongoing protests this week
Picture: Fredlin Adriaan

Police, NPA adopt no-tolerance policy after attacks on vehicles

Seventeen people have been arrested for alleged involvement in the ongoing protests in Motherwell and Wells Estate which led to buses being torched and cars damaged this week.

Yesterday, police top brass consulted with the senior state prosecutor, who decided to throw the book at the protesters.

The maximum sentence for damaging infrastructure under the Criminal Amendment Act is 35 years in prison.

The ongoing violence resulted in the closure of the Addo Road (R335) and the R334, but both roads are expected to be reopened today.

The latest spate of incidents, on Wednesday at about 11pm, saw yet another truck stoned in Markman.

At about 8pm, a group of protesters also threw petrol bombs and stones over the wall of Scribante Concrete, in Grahamstown Road, near Wells Estate.

Shortly before the incident, a private waste disposal truck, worth about R1.7million, was torched while driving in Neptune Road toward the Coega IDZ.

Police spokesman Captain Andre Beetge said a meeting between the police and the National Prosecuting Authority discussed Wednesday’s attack on a bus full of schoolchildren as well as an incident two weeks ago when two commuters were seriously burnt trying to escape from a burning bus.

The 17 will face a host of charges, ranging from being in possession of explosives to damaging critical infrastructure, and public violence.

Earlier this week, about 12 people were arrested when they were caught with petrol bombs.

On Wednesday, an additional five people were arrested for either throwing petrol bombs at police and motorists, or for public violence.

“Both the police and the prosecuting authority agree that due to the violent nature of these crimes, additional charges need to be added,” Beetge said.

He said those who had thrown petrol bombs would face additional charges.

“The Explosives Act clearly states that it is a crime to intentionally cause an explosion with an explosive device, which is another charge that will be brought against them,” he said.

A no-tolerance policy to violent protests had been adopted in light of the attack on the pupils’ bus, he said.

The cases would be handed over later to the regional court for prosecution.

Some of those detained could possibly also face charges of attempted murder, Beetge said.

All 17 suspects, aged between 20 and 43, are due to appear in the Motherwell Magistrate’s Court today.

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