A group of about 200 protesters from the Motsoaledi informal settlement damaged glass doors in the Johannesburg Metro Centre building in Braamfontein, said Michael Sun, public safety member of the mayoral committee (MMC) on Friday.
Sun said on Thursday the protesters claimed they had engaged the city of Johannesburg on their housing grievances, but in reality, they forced their way into the Metro Centre in Braamfontein and ran amok in the administrative nerve centre of the city.
“We respect our residents’ Constitutional rights to protest and welcome any constructive engagement with the city, but we will not tolerate any thugs hiding behind the name of protest when they are really there to sabotage our effort to deliver services to our residents.
“The Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) officers managed to contain the situation and pushed the crowd outside the metro centre whilst city officials engaged with the leaders of the group. However, the group leadership did not seem to have a formal business agenda and instead demanded to be served with food and beverages.”
He said two suspects causing damage to city property were identified amongst the leadership group and were arrested immediately, the third suspect managed to flee the scene but police was searching for the man.
The city will assist the National Prosecuting Authority to ensure that the perpetrators face the full might of the law.
“The gathering by the protesters was not only illegal but is also believed to be politically motivated since many were seen wearing political party regalia,” said Sun.
The two suspects were being held at the Hillbrow Police Station to be charged with malicious damage to property.