Pola Park residents protest against demolition of their shacks. The protest started on Friday when two law enforcement vehicles were set alight by protesters. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)
Pola Park residents protest against demolition of their shacks. The protest started on Friday when two law enforcement vehicles were set alight by protesters. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

Land invaders in Pola Park torch City property, clash with law enforcement

By Nomalanga Tshuma Time of article published Jul 13, 2021

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Cape Town - The City of Cape Town’s Safety and Security Directorate has condemned acts of violence against its working staff, vehicles and bases by Pola Park residents who have been protesting since last week when their shacks were taken down by law enforcement officials under the directive of the Human Settlements department.

The City said that since the protests began on Friday, July 9, a law enforcement vehicle and a base in Mfuleni were petrol bombed, while two metro police vehicles were stoned and damaged, and a Solid Waste department vehicle set alight.

Mayco Member for Safety and Security JP Smith said: “These violent acts are reminiscent of similar scenes last year when the City acted to prevent the illegal occupation of land.

“We cannot tolerate this level of lawlessness by a minority, who insist on justifying their illegal acts through violence directed at staff and other law-abiding citizens. The City is working closely with the police, as they are the lead agency tasked with public order policing, to bring those responsible to book.

Smith said that since the protests, several people have been taken into police custody. One of them a woman who tried to resist arrest on Friday by undressing herself in front of officers.

“This is not the first incident of this nature, where an individual has removed clothing as a means of evading arrest. Female law enforcement officers stepped in and covered the suspect with a blanket before effecting the arrest on charges of public violence and incitement, public indecency and resisting arrest.”

However, according to the community’s leaders, the City’s statement regarding the arrest of a naked woman is false.

Community leader Sonwabile Ntondini said that the woman was inside her shack semi-clothed when two male officers stormed in and aggressively dragged her out, ripping her clothes in the process and living her naked in front of her child.

Ntondini said: “It’s terrible that the law enforcement is choosing to lie about something many people witnessed. Their blatantly cruelty and disregard for our dignity is not something new. Why would they pretend otherwise now? Law enforcement together with the metro police and the Red Ants have been terrorising us since last year October.

“They come into the community at any time and drag us out of our homes, beat and humiliate us. I remember the first time we went to Blue Downs police to open the case against these officers, and we were told they didn’t have the right to come and demolish our homes likes this, yet here they are. We didn’t move here because we wanted to, we had no choice after losing our jobs to Covid-19.

“We have now taken a stance to protect our parents, sisters and children as best as we can. Right now it’s storming and some of them are outside. It’s inhumane, so we are going to defend our homes with our bodies; if in death, then so it be.”

Mayco Member for Human Settlements, Malusi Booi, said: “The City acts to prevent the unlawful occupation of land as it holds extreme health and safety hazards for residents and jeopardises the welfare of entire communities. The City will continue to act to uphold the rule of law.”

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Cape Argus

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