Picture: Sisonke Mlamla/African News Agency (ANA)
Calm has been restored in Zwelihle in Hermanus following weeks of sporadic violence which has seen the torching of a library and the shutting down of schools.

The violence reached boiling point when protesters allegedly attacked a police officer with an axe and made off with three service firearms, two of which were recovered on Thursday, a day before Police Minister Bheki Cele visited the township to quell tensions.

The residents have been in “shutdown” mode and protesting for more than a week demanding the release of Zwelihle Renewal leader, Gcobani Ndzongana, arrested for inciting violence and destruction of property.

At least two police officers and several protesters were injured since his arrest on July 12.

Ndzongana appeared in the Strand Magistrate’s Court on Friday and will stay in custody until his next appearance on July 27.

On Friday Cele entered the area with various high-ranking policemen, Premier Helen Zille, Members of Parliament and councillors.

The crowd turned volatile and hostile when Cele said he would not order the release of Ndzongana.

His spokesperson Reneilwe Serero said: “The minister is still due to meet the leaders again on Tuesday at 9am. The leaders told the minister what the issues are and will be answering back.”

Police spokesperson André Traut said since Friday 35 people have been arrested.

“Two people were arrested for attempted murder (after a policeman was attacked with an axe), two for the possession of stolen firearms and 31 for public violence. The situation in Zwelihle is currently under control. Our deployments will remain in the area to maintain law and order,” said Traut.

Overberg District Municipality said: “Health inspectors have performed an assessment of possible environmental health risks in Zwelihle. They have determined that the availability of running water diverted a potential health disaster.

“Focus areas, already identified in our contingency plans, will receive urgent attention as safe access to the community improves.

“Bringing the situation back to safe standards will be a mammoth task and will require some time. Damaged infrastructure is being closed off for public safety reasons.”

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