40 held after violent protests in SwellendamComment on this story
Cape Town - Forty Swellendam residents have been arrested on public violence charges as running battles between the community and the police continued on Friday.
By midday, shops in the centre of the town were closing in anticipation of an invasion by residents of Railton on the opposite side of the N2 highway.
Long queues were forming at supermarkets as residents stockpiled supplies.
Railton residents were reacting to a Western Cape High Court decision granting the DA interim relief to take back the local municipality following a hostile take-over by the ANC and the ACDP last month.
The protesters are demanding the reinstatement of an acting municipal manager who has been suspended in the wake of the latest political developments.
A police spokesman confirmed that nine residents had been injured and three police vehicles damaged in the protests, which started on Wednesday.
Late on Thursday night protesters threw burning tyres on to the N2 highway, barricaded roads with rocks and looted shops belonging to foreign nationals.
A liquor store in Railton was set alight as tensions flared in the Overberg town.
On Thursday night, and again on Friday morning, Railton residents and police were engaged in running battles, the former stoning policemen and the latter responding with rubber bullet fire.
Late on Thursday night police in riot gear held back a 1 000-strong crowd, determined to cross the N2 to reach the town’s main business district.
A three-hour stand-off ensued during which a policeman was wounded in the face as the angry mob pelted officers with stones.
Heavily armed police responded with rubber bullets and angry protesters scattered.
Armed with stones and sticks, small pockets of protesters tried moving forward but were forced to retreat as police stormed into the township.
By midnight the Western Cape ANC provincial deputy secretary, Maurencia Gillion, was urging residents to return to their homes and to refrain from any criminal activity.
She said negotiations were taking place with the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Richard Baloyi, to get him to lead talks with community, church and traditional leaders as well councillors of the embattled municipality.
Railton community leader Mcgegan Anthony said the community had vowed to continue the protest action until ANC-appointed acting municipal manager Mervyn Steenkamp was reinstated and the municipality was back in the hands of the ANC.