Cape Town – Four people were arrested in Bo-Kaap on Tuesday following a demonstration against gentrification in the area.
The protest, which started in the morning continued until the evening, forcing traffic to be diverted from the area’s main entry point.
Tempers flared and police used stun grenades to disperse the crowd.
The demonstration was in relation to two cranes attempting to enter Lion Street to continue construction of property developer Blok’s apartment. Blok bought the site in March last year, and the City approved the development of 56 residential units.
Construction started in April, and the Bo-Kaap residents have demonstrated for the preservation of the historic area's culture and heritage.
Police spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana said four people were arrested yesterday for public violence.
“Public order police and other law enforcement agencies are monitoring the protest in the Bo-Kaap. So far four suspects (three men and a female) aged between 22 and 43 years old have been arrested for public violence.
“Once they are charged they will be appearing in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court,” Rwexana said.
In July, Blok asked the court to interdict, among others, Bo-Kaap Youth Movement and “all other persons trespassing” from entering erf 2970, but later withdrew this.
Last week Blok again brought an interdict barring residents from “unlawful conduct” at the developer’s construction site.
The interdict is expected to be challenged in the Western Cape High Court next month.
Member of Bo-Kaap Collective Safwaan Laubscher said police escorted one of the cranes, but the other was not fit for the hilly terrain and kept rolling backwards.
Some people were injured during the clashes, he said.
“Bo-Kaap residents came together as a collective to protest. Blok’s interdict is going to be challenged in court next month, I don’t know why they brought cranes in before then,” he said.
In a statement, Blok said: “This delivery attempt was planned via a safe and quick route that would cause the least inconvenience to residents and businesses in Bo-Kaap.
"The necessary permits were in place and neighbouring homes as well as community stakeholders were provided notice ahead of the delivery in accordance with the law.
"A small self-interested group has unlawfully interfered with previous deliveries and there is currently an interdict in place to prevent any further interference by this group, not the entire community as alleged.
“As per the court order, law enforcement was informed of the delivery and after their security assessment, made the necessary arrangements to prevent the kind of violent interference experienced during previous delivery attempts and to ensure the safety of the hundreds of staff working on the construction site.”
The protest comes days after the Bo-Kaap Youth Movement said it was developing a Community Benefit Agreement, and sought input from residents on submitting nominations for the declaration of the Auwal Masjid and Tana Baru as national heritage sites, to protect, recognise and celebrate the first Masjid and first Muslim burial ground in South Africa.