Firefighters at a torched vehicle, believed to belong to a fisheries official, after some Hangberg residents in Hout Bay took to the streets and protested yesterday. This was after it was alleged that a fisher, suspected of poaching, was shot by police. Picture: Armand Hough/ African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Angry Hangberg residents clashed with police and torched buildings and a vehicle after two days of searching for a young fisher, presumed lost at sea, following an altercation with authorities on Friday.

He was alleged to be fishing illegally. Police say two suspects were arrested while a fishing boat with crayfish and fishing nets was seized. A missing person docket was under investigation.

Residents had gathered at the slipway at the Hout Bay harbour on Sunday, where several small scale fishers had undertaken their own search for the fisher.

The situation soon became volatile as residents set alight buildings belonging to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Daff) at the harbour.

Protesters went to the home of one the Daff officials in Milner Street, Hout Bay, and allegedly held his family hostage before officials arrived. His vehicle was torched.

Hangberg resident Angelo Josephs said the young fisher was in his mid-twenties and went out to sea on Friday with two fellow fishers when they were approached by Daff officials.

“They do not have permits and the officials call it poaching but this is what the men in our community are forced to do in order to put food on the table. We were told Daff officials came and shots were fired and he went overboard and has been missing for almost two days,” said Josephs.

Angry Hangberg residents clashed with police and torched buildings and a vehicle after two days of searching for a young fisher. Video footage, photos: Dominic Adriaanse, City of Cape Town

Hout Bay Fishers Community Trust spokesperson Ikram Halim said: “The people said they would shut the harbour down to get the attention of the authorities as the search by the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) was delayed because of choppy waters.”

The City had reported that two sea fisheries storerooms at the harbour were set alight and one house was razed in Milner Road.

Later during the day, the City reported firefighters were battling to extinguish another fire at a building that had been set alight.

Police spokesperson Andre Traut said police were investigating a case of illegal poaching. “Provincial detectives are probing a case of public violence following a protest in Hout Bay that saw two buildings set on fire.

“Three suspects have been arrested.”

NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said two NSRI Hout Bay sea rescue craft and a sea rescue vehicle patrolled along Chapmans Peak Drive in an ongoing search operation.

Daff Minister Senzeni Zokwana’s spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana said: “Our officials are still providing us with information so we can ascertain what occurred.”

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Cape Times