By Bev Mortimer
St Francis Bay cops and backup riot police armed with rifles from Humansdorp used stun grenades* to frighten the more than 200 marchers who had occupied the R330 since after 5.30 this am.
The crowd at 7 am were peaceful but refused to move they said until an Eastern Province Council official came to address their concerns. There was no stone throwing or violence from the crowd that had been peaceful up to that point.
The SAP gave them a warning at about 8 am through a loud speaker and after 5 minutes when the crowd refused to budge off the road, the SAP threw several stun grenades into the crowd. The grenades made loud gun shot and crackling sounds like fire crackers and there was lots of smoke.
The terrified crowd of marchers ran in all directions and some into the bushes towards Lyme Road North. Some of the marchers were so angry they had been ordered off the road that they started two fires in the bushes. These were put out by a fire engine and crew from St Francis Bay fire department under the auspices of Kouga Municipality.
Some marchers saw police running in the bushes and were too terrified to move for at least an hour as they thought they would be shot. So they hid deep in the bush. Some men running down Lyme Road North at 8.30 am shouted that they will be back to take over the R330 again.
Police armed with rifles ran through the bushes looking for the perpetrators. Other police with rifles jumped into police vans – at least six vans – and raced to the fires . combing the precincts to look for hiding marchers.
Meanwhile, when the road was deserted of demonstrators, a fire engine put the fires out on the R330.
The remainder of the crowd tried to return to their spot on the R330 but were coerced by armed police in vehicles behind them to go back up the road to Sea Vista at 8.30 am.
See video of police action in dispersing the crowd by Liezl Clause:
Motorists were allowed to travel on the R330 in both directions from just before 9 am.
* “Stun grenade, also known as a flash grenade or flashbang, is a non-lethal explosive device used to temporarily disorient an enemy’s senses. It is designed to produce a blinding flash of light and loud noise without causing permanent injury. It was first developed by the British Army’s SAS in the 1960s” – Wikipedia
See earlier post this morning, 21 June at 7 am, with photos/slideshow:
Photos: By Bev Mortimer and courtesy of Liezl Clause (indicated)
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