The call for a shut down follows similar actions in the Kensington, Bonteheuwel, Bishop Lavis and Elsies River communities in recent weeks, which led to major traffic jams across the city. Picture: Henk Kruger/ANA/African News Agency
Cape Town - Police Minister Bheki Cele was due to meet residents of Bonteheuwel today, after police violently dispersed groups of protesters taking part in the “Total Shutdown” protest on Tuesday.

Eight people were arrested in Bonteheuwel during early-morning scuffles with police. Protests took place in several parts of the city.

Following the protest action and arrests, Western Cape SA Human Rights Commission commissioner Chris Nissen said communities had asked “to engage with the minister of police”.

Residents and trade unionists in Bellville, Bishop Lavis, Bonteheuwel, Langa, Steenberg, Manenberg, Nyanga, Hanover Park, Flamingo Vlei, Samora Machel, Philippi, Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha, Kensington, Factreton, Heideveld, Delft, Kraaifontein, Ottery and Ruyterwacht took part in the protests.

An organiser, Gatto Wanza, said many residents continued to live in abject poverty, and were facing unprecedented levels of unemployment and violence.

He said those residents could not afford to buy food and pay for basic necessities such as water, electricity and transport.

“We live in overcrowded communities because of a lack of decent housing,” said Wanza.

Hanover Park community member Kenneth Lewis said residents had displayed unity during the protest, which initially had been peaceful.

“We were peaceful until the police violated our rights and then used stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse us,” he said.

“According to our constitution, we have a right to protest.”

Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa said public order police were deployed to various locations.

Eight people were arrested in Bonteheuwel on the corner of Bluegum Road and Jakes Gerwel Drive following run-ins with police that resulted in the disruption of traffic.

“Stun grenades and rubber bullets were fired in an effort to restore calm,” said Potelwa.

Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith said the protest organisers had not made an application to protest in terms of the Regulation of Gatherings Act.

“The bigger problem is that the road closures are not lawful,” he said. It was time that the provincial government was given control of policing so it could “fix the mess national government has made of it”.

“This can happen through assignment of function, and would bring us closer to international best practice,” he said.


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Cape Argus