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Hawks take over probe into Swellendam municipal office torching

The Swellendam municipal head office was torched during a service delivery protest.

The Swellendam municipal head office was torched during a service delivery protest.

Published Aug 22, 2023


While the Hawks have taken over the investigation into the torching of the Swellendam municipal head office building during protest action last week, a resident has denounced politicians using their issues for political gain.

This, after the DA called for a probe into allegations it levelled against the ANC, accusing it of insinuating violence.

Resident and community activist Thenjiwe Jack refuted that they were influenced by politicians or anyone else.

“This is a struggle of the residents that got out of hand when the mayor and his officials failed to address the community. We will not allow this matter to be turned into a joke by politics. People really need service delivery and there are currently discussions about council offers in efforts to maintain peace and a resolution,” she said.

Mayhem swept through Swellendam last week, with shops looted and damaged when Railton and Matjoks residents staged protest actions over service delivery including the application of the indigent subsidy, which would give them free electricity units.

According to Mayor Francois du Rand, the gutted infrastructure would cost about R25 million to rebuild.

DA spokesperson on local government, Isaac Sileku, said they had written to the police requesting they look into whether any political party had a role in instigating the violent protest.

“There are currently rumours doing the round that these violent protests were instigated by none other than the ANC and while these accusations are currently not confirmed, they should be taken seriously. The DA in the Western Cape wholeheartedly condemns the destruction of the Swellendam municipal offices and looting of shops during violent and unlawful protest action. While we respect residents’ right to protest and voice their dissatisfaction, this should never happen through the destruction of property or unlawful behaviour,” said Sileku.

ANC’s local government spokesperson Cameron Dugmore said the DA was manufacturing rumours and then spreading them.

“Our position is very clear that instigation of violence and arson must be investigated without fear or favour.

We condemn all destruction of property and violence without exception.

The ANC has been trying to bring calm to the situation. Our alliance partner Sanco has also been assisting. The removal last year by the DA of its own deputy mayor (Councillor Pokwas) and two other councillors from disadvantaged communities, has plunged governance in Swellendam into a crisis for the past 18 months. This has affected service delivery in the municipality and led to a total disregard for poor communities,” he said.

Western Cape police spokesperson, Novela Potelwa, said: “The incident of the torching of a municipal building in Swellendam coupled with several other incidents of public violence in the area, are receiving priority. A number of suspects have been arrested for public violence with SAPS detectives investigating several cases of public violence, malicious damage to property and housebreaking. In as far as the torching of the municipal building in Swellendam, that arson investigation has been taken over by the Hawks.

SAPS remain on high alert in the area maintaining a strong presence.” Hawks spokesperson Zinzi Hani confirmed they were looking into the incident and no arrests had been made.

Cape Times