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Two police officers were injured and one person hospitalised after a violent protest erupted in Zwelihle, Hermanus, yesterday.

Police say more than 1000 angry residents took to the streets calling for the release of their community leader, Gcobani Ndzongana, who was arrested after he was accused of incitement and malicious damage to property.

Police spokesperson FC van Wyk said police remained on high alert as the area was on a knife-edge last night.

“Five people aged between 23 and 38 were arrested for public violence. Over 1000 protesters blocked the road and set tyres alight. Two members of the SAPS were injured during the incident, and one protester was taken to hospital with injuries.

“We can confirm that action was taken to disperse the riotous crowd. No reports of damages have been reported. We appeal to those participating in the protest to do so within the ambit of the law,” Van Wyk said.

The violence began at the weekend after residents torched a library when protesting about a fence which they said the municipality had erected to segregate them from a neighbouring white community.

Health Department spokesperson Simone Carelse said: “The department regrets to inform the public that the Hermanus Community Day Centre is closed due to unrest in Zwelihle. Hopefully, we’ll be open tomorrow (today). Patients are asked to visit their nearest clinics for medical treatment and to go to Hermanus Hospital for emergencies.”

The Overstrand Municipality rubbished claims that it planned to segregate the two communities.

A resident, who asked not to be named, said: “We will have a meeting and decide a way forward because five innocent people who did not participate in the protest were also arrested. We are saying hands off our leaders and people.

“It is pure lies that Ndzongana was inciting violence in the community. The municipality doesn’t want to admit when they are wrong. He was arrested for standing up and saying segregation is wrong.

“We refuse to be intimidated and taken back to the past where there was division between white and black communities."

The municipality said the Ward 12 committee was in favour of the Schulphoek Road fence to stop illegal dumping of rubbish.

“Funding for the fence was approved by the council during the mid-term budget review in February 2018. The fence is currently in storage and there might be some panels that can still be used, but the poles are bent and the fence is no longer under guarantee,” the municipality said.