Four die in Cape protest ‘war zone’
Cape Town - Four people died, nine were injured, more than 100 shacks burnt and nine brick houses set alight as two communities – Marikana informal settlement and Lower Crossroads – clashed at the weekend.
On Saturday, police separated the two communities by pulling razor wire down Sheffield Road, which divides Marikana and Lower Crossroads, following a night of violence that left the area looking like a war zone.
Marikana residents have been protesting for the past week, demanding that the City of Cape Town install water and toilets on the land they are occupying.
They burnt seven municipal trucks, set five other vehicles alight, stoned police and private vehicles, and torched offices at Phakama High School.
The area ward councillor’s house was also set alight during a service delivery protest for water and toilets.
Karel Dilgee, of Mandalay, died when he was struck by a concrete brick when the car he was travelling in got caught up in the protest.
The two communities turned on each other when Marikana protesters torched Letitia Mali’s home on Friday morning while they protested by burning tyres on Sheffield Road.
Mali said her house was torched because she had asked the protesting residents not to burn tyres in front of her house.
Residents said people from Lower Crossroads supported Mali and retaliated by burning shacks in Marikana.
Lower Crossroads residents said they were being held hostage by the Marikana protesters because they blocked the roads and burnt tyres.
Attempts by community leaders and the police to find a solution to end the violence yesterday were unsuccessful.
Lower Crossroads residents said they want residents from the Marikana informal settlement to leave and would not accept apologies from the Marikana community leaders.
Police spokesperson André Traut confirmed that there were three fatalities at the weekend, in addition to the death of Karel Dilgee.
Traut said on Saturday that three men – a 29-year-old, a 28-year-old and a 32-year-old – had been shot and killed.
Residents said two other people were shot on Friday night and Saturday morning, but Traut could not confirm this.
On Sunday, he described the situation in Marikana as “tense but under control”.
“Police deployments will remain in the area to maintain law and order until we are satisfied the area has stabilised,” said Traut.
Police arrested a number of people for public violence and arson, and the suspects are expected to appear in court today, said Traut.
A meeting for peace, which followed a meeting between leaders and police on Saturday afternoon, had to be called off because tempers flared.
A resident at the meeting, Nkosikho Mvana, who lives in Lower Crossroads, told the crowd that the meeting was “absolute nonsense”.
To loud applause, Mvana said Marikana residents should pack their belongings and go. “You can never destroy schools when you are protesting for service delivery and expect that things would be normal. The councillor’s house and the schools have nothing to do with their plight for services that they need from the City.
“When they invaded the private land illegally, they knew they would not be provided with services.”
A Marikana resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “We know we have done wrong and we ask for forgiveness”.