Hout Bay on knife-edge as cars are torched in violent protest
Imizamo Yethu remained on a knife-edge as residents went on a rampage in Hout Bay, torching cars and vandalising property during a violent service delivery protest yesterday.
The violence erupted after talks between the city and community leaders broke down. A resident was wounded after being shot in the chest.
Emergency services were unable to enter the area owing to the running battles between residents and the police. Four people were arrested during the protest.
During the early hours of Sunday, Hout Bay residents said they heard chainsaws as trees were cut down along Victoria Road to block traffic along with burning tires and debris along the Main Road.
Residents had taken their frustration to the streets because of the city’s and provincial government’s Human Settlements department’s “empty promises and failure” to accommodate the 15 000 displaced after the fires, according to community leaders.
Imizamo Yethu Movement chairperson Markus Nduda said: “We were engaged with the officials over what they called ‘super-blocking,’ but still nothing has been done. Now we demand they deliver on their promise to us of six-by-six pieces of land with basic services."
He said more than three months had passed since hundreds of displaced families were placed in tiny four-by-four shacks at the Hout Bay sports field.
In March, the mayor had said that the whole community would be given the go-ahead for re-blocking to create space to reduce the fire hazard and build roads between homes for emergency access, which was set to take three months.
De Lille said she and city officials’ attempts to enter the area in order to engage with the community leadership was prevented.
“We are still trying to use all avenues to meet with community leadership to help the people of Imizamo Yethu and to make sure that the community gets the services they need as fast as possible,” said De Lille.
She said the disruption in the community was reaching dangerous levels, but remained willing to engage so that she could understand the issues and work with the people of Imizamo Yethu.
Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa said that the SAPS, along with law enforcement agencies, had committed additional resources and activated a provincial joint and intelligence structure. She said that law-enforcement and disaster management caravans, a garage, an old-age home and vehicles were damaged during the protests.
Potelwa said four male suspects had been arrested for public violence, and a number of arson and malicious damage to property cases had been opened and detectives were investigating.