Blood flows in race row

120319. Cape Town. A racial war has broke out in the town of grabouw between black and coloured people. Picture henk kruger

120319. Cape Town. A racial war has broke out in the town of grabouw between black and coloured people. Picture henk kruger

Published Mar 19, 2012


Violent protests on the N2 in Grabouw on Monday forced police to close the key route to Cape Town.

Passing cars and trucks were smashed with rocks as a protest about conditions at a school escalated into an all-out rampage between racial groups within the Grabouw community.

Community members and witnesses said the scene resembled a civil war, as roving rival gangs of coloured and black African community members fought pitched battles at several points in the town simultaneously.

In ensuing confrontations, people had their skulls smashed with rocks and they were beaten by residents armed with numerous weapons including sticks and spades, while police and civic association leaders tried to negotiate peace.

Coloured residents told the Cape Argus they would defend their school “with their lives”. They claimed the black residents were trying to burn it down.

At the time of going to press, the Cape Argus witnessed a coloured mob beating a number of black men who they suspected were trying to infiltrate the school area.

A cloud of tear gas hung over a large area as police raced to each new outbreak of violence to extract victims dripping with blood.

Three schools in the area were also closed, the Western Cape Education Department confirmed.

The protest began with complaints of “severe overcrowding” at Umyezo Wama Apile Combined School. Community representatives said classes would not resume until protesters’ grievances had been addressed.

John Michaels, chairman of the Elgin/Grabouw Civic Organisation, said the national education ministry had been asked to intervene.

The group wants more teachers and classes be provided, and for the primary and secondary school to be separated.

Education MEC Donald Grant said teaching and learning had been disrupted at several schools. Three –Kathleen Murray High School, Pineview Primary and Groenberg Secondary – were closed.

“It is completely unacceptable and immoral that Mr Michaels and the EGCA are destroying the life chances of children for their own political gain,” he said.

The impact on motorists was severe, as the N2 was closed at the entrance to Grabouw, and at the foot of Sir Lowry’s Pass – forcing commuters to take a wide detour either via Franschhoek and Theewaterskloof Dam, or along Clarence Drive via Gordon’s Bay, Rooi Els and Betty’s Bay.

Farmers in the area, desperate to get their harvests to co-ops and dispatch centres, said the closure of the N2 was disastrous.

Provincial traffic spokesman Jacques Mostert said Sir Lowry’s Pass was closed around 2am when reports of cars being stoned first started coming in.

Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said the situation was very tense.

The N2 highway at Grabouw was re-opened on Monday after protesters disrupted the flow of traffic. - Cape Argus

Related Topics: