Plettenberg Bay 'running scared' as businesses close amid looting, destruction
Cape Town – Fear reigns in Plettenberg Bay, with many businesses being forced to close their doors today due to ongoing, violent service delivery protests.
The N2 remains closed today between Shell Ultra City and Kwanakuthula as residents of Qolweni and other communities protest over housing and a need for better services, with a new demand being the resignation of Ward 3 councillor Xola Matyila.
Restaurant manager Melissa Mann said their warehouse in the industrial area was looted last night, the SABC reported.
"Our warehouse was completely looted. They smashed double gates, they smashed the roller shutter doors, they smashed all the little gates to get into the building.
"They completely destroyed and taken all our goods. We are completely unable to trade. It's the whole town. They are holding the town to ransom.
"It's very scary at the moment because we don't know what the outcome is going to be. It's gone beyond a peaceful protest to just absolute chaos and its very scary. "
Bitou Municipal spokesperson Manfred van Rooyen said on Thursday the Youth and Sport Development office was looted, ransacked and set alight last night.
"There have been various incidents of looting last night, breaking into properties in the industrial areas, burglaries, theft, malicious damage to property, both private and public, with immense losses to the municipality and business owners and, in some cases, individuals. There have been injuries from rocks and stone-throwing at passers-by."
The municipality believes the violent protests are being driven by a political agenda, which is aimed at removing three ward councillors from their positions.
"It is crime outright and, two, it's a political campaign, because the municipality and its administration cannot deal with calls for the resignation of councillors as it is something to be raised with the political parties that the councillors represent."
Yesterday, Plettenberg Bay Community Policing Forum chairperson Mlulami Siphango refused to comment on the violent protests which led to the closure of the N2, saying he feared for his life and was under threat from residents.
“I fear for my life because the residents will come after me once I comment on the matter. Can you please call me after five minutes before I engage with you? I need to talk to my comrades first,” he said.
The protest over the lack of delivery of basic services saw two people, aged 21 and 24, arrested for public violence. This followed a march by residents on June 18 to hand over a memorandum of demands to the municipality, giving officials seven days to reply.
Residents said yesterday’s protest was because they were not satisfied with the municipality’s response to their demands.
“The demands mainly focused on service delivery, including the slow pace of housing project 169, the high unemployment rate, tenders awarded to the same people year after year, and the lack of sport and youth development facilities," Van Rooyen said yesterday.
"The protesters were also angry that some people have houses but are renting them out while staying in shacks.
“Their demands included the resignation of the Ward 3 councillor, Xola Matyila. This is a new demand that does not form part of the June 18 petition.
"This has not been done yet as the municipality is not aware of any reason in law, or any transgression of the code of conduct for councillors that necessitates the removal of Mr Matyila as a councillor.”