Residents throw rocks at police to protest the arrest of one of their leaders. Picture: Nic Bothma

Cape Town - The arrest of a community leader from Masiphumelele, who has been a driving force behind protests in the area, sparked fresh uproar in the settlement on Friday, with hundreds of residents disrupting the area.

And they’ve vowed to continue until the arrested man, who sources say is being held at Wynberg Police Station so the community cannot access him easily, is released from custody.

But this may happen only on Monday.

Police have said they will spend the weekend monitoring the area, which has recently been gripped by violent flare-ups and a spate of mob killings.

In the latest surge of violence on Friday, more than 600 residents obstructed roads, set two boats alight and threw rocks and stones at police and journalists.

They also set fire to cars and a bus and moved out of the informal settlement to nearby roads, preventing cars from passing.

One resident, who did not want to be identified, said they were angry because one of their leaders had been taken into custody late on Thursday.

“We want the police to release him. He should be here with us. We won’t stop until he is free,” the resident said.

Ayanda Apollis, another community leader, confirmed that his colleague had been arrested and that residents were protesting in reaction.

Police spokeswoman Noloyiso Rwexana said it appeared protesters were demanding the release of a person arrested on Thursday on suspicion of having carried out an assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

The suspect was expected to appear in the Simon’s Town Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

Rwexana said the protest began about 5am on Friday.

“According to information, the protesters burned two boats and a caravan, and placed rocks on the road… At this stage it is not known why the community is protesting,” she said, also urging residents to stop the violence.

Yesterday another resident, who asked not to be named, told Weekend Argus she was too scared to leave her workplace because angry residents were marching through the streets.

“They’re throwing stones and shouting. I’m too scared to go home,” she said.

Police have been trying desperately to prevent further violence and group killings in the area.

Last week acting provincial police commissioner Thembisile Patekile told Weekend Argus that a team had been assembled to probe the recent spate of vigilante murders, and identify any residents who may have been involved.

He had said extra police officers were deployed to the informal settlement to try and quell the trouble, and that there were also plans to set up a satellite police station there.

The spate of mob killings in Masiphumelele started on September 15, when two men were murdered hours after 14-year-old Amani Pula was found killed and apparently raped in his home there.

On the same morning the teen’s body was found, a 24-year-old woman was raped in a separate incident.

A week later residents fatally attacked a man and beat another. They suspected the duo of having carried out burglaries in the area.

Seven men were arrested during the attacks on the two men, and when they appeared in court a week later, after being held in custody, a massive protest ensued with the more than 1 000 residents turning on police.

About two weeks ago, in the fourth attack, a man was set alight and burnt to death.

Weekend Argus

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