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Trains stoned, shops looted in Cape protest

Cape Town - Langa was effectively locked down on Wednesday morning after a violent protest on the streets of the township in the early morning.

Trains were reportedly stoned, while a bakery was set on fire with a petrol bomb and many of the shops near the taxi rank were looted.

Police attempt to restore calm in Langa after a violent early-morning protest on the streets. Photo: Henk Kruger. Credit: CAPE ARGUS

Tyres lay smouldering in the road, empty rubber-bullet casings rolled in the wind and residents watched as police stood at a safe distance.

Residents said the protest started at about 4am. The protesters, many carrying sjamboks, had taken to the street demanding more housing.

“I walked out of my house at 5am and there were people everywhere,” said one resident leaning against the wall of her home. She wanted to remain anonymous.

“(The protesters) threatened me when they saw I was going to work. They said go back inside and you can only leave at 10am.”

Another resident said the protesters had beaten a man on his way to the train station.

“He was carrying a bag and they said he cannot go to work.”

There were still catcalls when residents spotted someone walking with a bag.

“You can’t go to work,” they yelled.

When the Cape Argus attempted to drive to the local police station many people warned us to turn around.

“They will hurt you.”

Police spokesman Lieutenant Andre Traut said police had been deployed in the area.

All the roads into the township were barricaded off with concrete barriers or police cars, causing delays on the N2 and Vanguard Drive as commuters were forced to find alternative routes to work.

By 10am, there were still crowds gathered around the taxi rank in the township’s shopping district.

“Action has been taken to maintain law and order,” Traut said.

At the time of publication, no arrests had been made.

Metrorail spokeswoman Riana Scott said services to the local station had been cancelled. Early this morning as protests began, people had set fire to rubbish and tires on the tracks.

When that had been cleared, protesters had stoned trains as they arrived at the station, she said.

On Tuesday, people had also attempted to sabotage train services in the area, Scott said.

“Right now we are just running a service up to Khayelitsha,” she said. “Things are still simmering there, so we are asking customers to remain patient for the duration of the protest. It’s for their own safety.”

Meanwhile, barricades of burning tyres blocked traffic between the N2 and Mew Way on the key arterial route Baden Powell Drive this morning.

Twin barricades were set up by residents of Makhaza, a suburb of Eastern Khayelitsha which has a large proportion of informal shack homes.

By 10.30am, police had dispersed the crowds and swept the road clean of smouldering molten rubber.

Additional reporting by Murray Williams and Anne Steele

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