A Township in Flames

Tensions between riot police and the citizens of the Siyathemba¬†township in Mpumalanga province reached a fever pitch yesterday in a stand off that saw police fire tear gas and rubber bullets at violent protestors. The nation’s eyes descended on the the rural township after a spate of xenophobic attacks earlier in the week — the first since a wave of violence killed 63 in May 2008 — erupted from broken election promises and poor housing delivery.¬†

An armoured police Nyala watches over a restless citizen congregation during an address by the mayor of neighbouring Balfour. Later that day the same crowd burned his house down.

An armoured police Nyala watches over a restless citizen congregation during an address by the mayor of neighbouring Balfour. Later that day the same crowd burned his house down.

Jeers from behind a mesh fence.

Jeers from behind a mesh fence.

Peace, for now.

Peace, for now.

Watching through a hole in the fence.

Watching through a hole in the fence.

Headspace

Headspace

Fired-up township dwellers take to the streets after the disappointing address.

Fired-up township dwellers take to the streets after the disappointing address.

Protestors take the streets in riot.

Protestors storm the streets in riot configuration.

Riot police move in to defuse the situation.

Riot police move in to defuse the situation.

A man throws a stone at police from behind the safety of a private residence.

A man throws a stone at police from behind the safety of a private residence.

Protestors run from approaching police Nyalas.

Protestors run from approaching police Nyalas.

Guns at the ready, police scour the township for protestors brazen enough to show themselves.

Guns at the ready, police scour the township for protestors brazen enough to show themselves.

Armed with rocks, protestors flee from approaching riot police.

Armed with rocks, protestors flee from approaching riot police.

Photographers Alon Skuy and Thys Dullaart of The Times take cover from crossfire.

Photographers Alon Skuy and Thys Dullaart of The Times take cover from crossfire.

Street alight

A man runs from an armoured police Nyala rounding the corner.

A policeman guides a Nyala around hastily-erected roadblocks.

A policeman guides a Nyala around hastily-erected roadblocks.

Standing in the Nyala's path, a protestor holds a stone at the ready.

Standing in the Nyala's path, a protestor holds a stone at the ready.

Photojournalists take shelter from crossfire behind a Times car. Last week protestors torched an SABC car in a service delivery protest in the Diepsloot township north of Johannesburg.

Photojournalists take shelter from crossfire behind a Times car.

Author

Austin Andrews is a Vancouver-based photojournalist and occasional filmmaker with a penchant for finding the fantastic in the everyday. Contact him at austin [at] disposablewords [dot] net

5 comments

  • So, let’s get this right … Photojournalists are huddling from crossfire and you are standing out in the open taking pictures of them?? As in, what are you thinking!? Be more careful out there.

    Reply
  • Some were huddling, most weren’t. There were a LOT of photojournalists there and the only reason you don’t see more of them here is because it doesn’t make for great reporting.

    Reply
  • Love the photo of the protester with the rock. Just that alone would make it a great photo, but the faint headlights of the police nyala make it even better.

    Reply
  • Such an intense set of images. Having the guts to shoot like that is inspiring. I’ve always wanted to capture raw emotional images, but I am a chicken so I shoot models and the occasional sleepy kangaroo. How about we trade for a day?

    Reply

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