throwing stones during land protest in Strand. Lwandle resident protest for land they want to occupy the land next to the N2. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - There has been a dramatic increase in the number of protests in the last six weeks, resulting in damaged infrastructure, service delivery disruptions and massive inconvenience to residents.

The City of Cape Town condemns the politically instigated, among other, and violent protests that have been and continue to occur across the metro.

This week, protest action in Blackheath and Strand have caused severe disruptions and volatility in some areas of the city, putting the lives of members of the public at risk and impacting on the City’s ability to deliver services.

In Khayelitsha a number of main roads have been closed to traffic as a result of protest action.

A number of City Health facilities and libraries in Strand and Khayelitsha were closed or were short-staffed as personnel could not get into the areas on Thursday. Access to the Khayelitsha Hospital had also been blocked during these illegal protests putting the lives of patients at risk.

During the last day or so at least three businesses were looted by criminal elements either instigating the illegal protests or using the protests as excuses for theft and robbery.

Thus far this month, the Law Enforcement Department has recorded 21 incidents of protest action. This follows on from 76 recorded incidents in March, which is an increase from 24 in February.

Many of the protests are related to attempted land invasions and the actions of City law enforcement agencies, supported by the South African Police Service, to ensure that the ongoing attempts to invade City-owned land are not successful. Not only is it illegal to invade land, to attempt to invade or to incite people to invade land, it also jeopardises planned projects. Newly formed settlements are also not planned or budgeted for, so the immediate requests for service provision is simply not possible.

"There was an unprecedented 74% increase in land invasions year-on-year last year. To put the frequency of land invasions into perspective, between January and the end of June 2018 some 67 000 illegally erected, vacant structures and pegs to mark off land, were removed. These operations tie up an enormous amount of City law enforcement resources. But it is vital to protect land from illegal occupation," said Mayco Member for Human Settlements Malusi Booi.

"Illegal occupation leads to fire, health and flooding risks and places an enormous train on our resources as a city. Priority is thus given to service provision for existing settlements. It is important for all of our communities in Cape Town to realise that land invasions affect us all."

According to the latest Annual Report (2017/18) some 97,3% of our households that the City supplies have access to electricity, 98,4% have access to refuse removal and 94,3% have access to sanitation.

"The City respects the right to protest, but it is the nature of the protests that is putting our residents’ lives at risk. The violence, destruction of infrastructure, risk to public safety and the closure of major routes which in turn impacts the economy, cannot be condoned. These disgraceful acts of public violence are damaging our economy and causing job losses, including to people from the affected areas," said Mayco Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith.

"The protests are also placing immense pressure on our enforcement services, which means resources are being diverted from other areas that are in need of policing. What is encouraging is that numerous arrests have been made for public violence, particularly relating to the protests in Strand and Blackheath, but the criminal justice system does not have a strong track record of achieving convictions. We will continue to bear the brunt of violent protests, until the criminal justice system cracks down on these acts of wanton destruction."


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Cape Argus