About 1 000 Zwelihle residents gathered at a sport field to listen to Police Minister Bheki Cele during an imbizo yesterday. They demanded the release of their arrested community leaders. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Police Minister Bheki Cele says he will not withdraw the heavy police presence in Zwelihle, Hermanus, until the firearm robbed from an officer is returned.

Cele had visited the area which has seen violent protests that led to the shutting down of four schools and a local clinic.

Residents have been demanding the release of Zwelihle Renewal leader Gcobani Ndzongana - arrested for inciting violence and destruction of property - and more than 60 residents who were arrested after him.

Additional police were on Tuesday deployed in the area and a 24/7 base camp was set up in Swartdam Road.

Cele said all affected parties needed to work together and there was still a long way to go before stability would be fully achieved in the area.

“We are progressing the visit was much better than last time. Things are in the process of normalising people must get back to work and children must get back to school.

"After the engagement with community members and the leaders we have given ourselves a week or two to solve matters such as removing the deployed police from the area.

“Meanwhile, we have set conditions that must happen. The leadership has promised to find the missing gun and that will be the beginning of normalisation in the area,” said Cele.

He advised residents who claimed to have been injured at the hands of his officers to open a case with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).

Regarding the release of the leaders and other community members, he said that was out of his hands as they were in the facility of the Department of Justice and the courts would decide.

“We are looking for long-term solutions because we don’t want this to be repeated.

“If bringing the Ipid to investigate the community claims that they were injured by police will help then that must happen. Every department must do their job to bring peace to this area.”

Cape Times