Arrests for the alleged invasion of private property sparked the violent protests that led to the closure of the N3 in the vicinity of Howick in KZN Midlands on Thursday night, police have said.
Spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said on Friday morning that community members embarked on a protest and blockaded the R617 and the N3, burning tyres and tree logs, after the arrest of the alleged trespassers.
She said nine people were arrested after they allegedly trespassed on the property at about 18:00 on Thursday.
She said that they invaded private property that did not belong to them. No structures were erected.
"They fired shots at the police and also set alight a truck on the N3. They also threw stones at police and motorists," she said.
There were reports of vehicles being damaged but no one opened a case, Gwala added.
"Rubber bullets were used to disperse the unruly crowd. A case of public violence was opened for investigation at Howick SAPS (SA Police Service)," said Gwala.
Those who were arrested, who were aged between 24 and 55, were expected to appear in the Howick Magistrate's Court on Friday.
"The situation is quiet today [Friday] and police are monitoring the area," she said.
The N3 Toll Concession, which is responsible for the management of the N3 Toll Route between Cedara in KwaZulu-Natal and Heidelberg in Gauteng, said all lanes on the N3 had been opened following the protest in Howick.