Firefighters reporting to a fuel tanker blaze in Gauteng’s West Rand on Wednesday night fell victim to an attack at the hands of ‘criminal protestors’.
According to Gauteng’s traffic enforcement officials, emergency services were called to the scene of a vehicle fire on the R24 near Orient Hills. This specific area has previously been embattled by violent protest action, which includes damage to municipal property and infrastructure.
West Rand District Municipal
Fire engine damaged by CRIMINAL Protestors while attending to apparent arson attack. Fuel Truck Tractor destroyed @GP_CommSafety @David_Makhura@GautengProvince @MbalulaFikile @TrafficRTMC @SAPoliceService @GDCoGTA @GautengEMS https://twitter.com/GTP_Traffstats/status/1151560156087541760 …
On arrival, City firefighters attempted to extinguish the flames that had engulfed a fuel tanker. While attending to the blaze, the fire fighting vehicle was attacked by a mob of community members. While personnel managed to escape the situation unharmed, the firetruck was badly damage. As reported by Gauteng’s traffic services:
“Fire engine damaged by criminal protestors while attending to apparent arson attack. Fuel Truck Tractor destroyed.”
It’s alleged that the same community had previously dug up sections of the R24 – a major route to Botswana and Magaliesburg – in an apparent protest for better service delivery. On Wednesday, traffic was initially diverted to the R400 in order to ensure the safety of motorists and commuters.
R24 Orient Hills chaos escalates
The situation, however, went from bad to worse following the attack on attending firefighters. The escalation resulted in damage to multiple traffic enforcement vehicles.
The detour around the chaos also became unsafe when it was reported that motorists were being targeted on that stretch of gravel road. According to reports, motorists were robbed while avoiding the protest action, which, by that time, had descended into wanton criminality.
As a result, law enforcement effectively closed-off the area, urging motorists to avoid the R24 Orient Hills region until further notice.
It’s understood that police have regained control of the situation but that the area still remained volatile on Thursday morning.
No arrests in connection with the arson or the attacks have yet been made.