N2 set ablaze and ‘more to come’
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Cape Town -
The organisers of Monday’s rolling protests along the N2 have warned they will intensify and “cause a huge impact” across greater Cape Town.
On Monday night, Andile Lili, head of the Ses’khona People’s Rights Movement, said the protesters had been “leading themselves”, but with the tacit encouragement of his organisation.
“You cannot separate our organisation from informal settlement dwellers, backyard dwellers or hostel (dwellers) – all of those people are standing in solidarity with Ses’khona People’s Rights Movement,” Lili said.
And he threatened that the protesters would worsen as his organisation began actively “co-ordinating” the protests.
Of their demands, he said: “First and foremost, the city and the province must unban our organisation.
“Second, we want to protest against the new logo – wastage of poor people’s money. Poor people from Valhalla Park or Masiphumelele could have benefited from that R8 million.
On the first matter, he threatened: “We want permission to march to the city. If they deny them their right to campaign for the elections in our areas, we will block them. We know it is their right to campaign in our areas, but it is also our right to march to the city.
“There will be a huge impact.”
Asked whether he condoned violent protest, Lili explained: “Of course we don’t want them to be violent. But communities agreed that we must make our grievances, must be listened to.
“We told them not to break robots or community facilities, but to close all major routes across Cape Town.”
Since 4.30am on Monday, protests flared up at almost a dozen sites – including N2/Borcherds Quarry and Airport Approach Road, N2/Baden Powell Drive, Baden Powell Drive/Walter Sisulu, Jaftha Masimole Drive, Hindle/Fairfield in Delft, and areas in Khayelitsha and Delft.
Throughout much of Monday, police had their hands full keeping the N2 open – in relentless running battles to prevent protesters from scattering burning tyres, chunks of concrete, rocks, rubbish and portable toilet waste containers on the roads.
For large parts of the day, the key national arterial route between Somerset West and the foot of Sir Lowry’s Pass remained closed, as police attempted to keep the road raiders at bay.
The SAPS provincial media office reported that “at about 11:50pm Pops (Public Order Policing Service) members arrested four people at Onverwacht, Lwandle when they found about more than 50 people burning tyres, (after) these people were warned to disperse. Members took action with a stun grenade to disperse them and they dispersed between the shacks,” police reported.
“At 11.55pm Pops members went on foot patrols between the shacks at Borcherds Quarry where protesters were throwing stones at vehicles through the fence between Borcherds Quarry and Airport Approach.
“No arrests were made. It is unknown if any private vehicles were damaged. The fire brigade extinguished burning rubble and removed it to the side of the road. N2 between Borcherds Quarry and Airport Approach all lanes are open again.”
Western Cape Premier Helen Zille told the Cape Argus: “This is undoubtedly co-ordinated, as last week’s events were, by Ses’Khona, led by Andile Lili and Loyiso Nkohla.
“They continue to pursue their ungovernability campaign, and their strategy is to ignite this strategy across the Western Cape. They have made these threats, and carried them out, repeatedly, so I am not guessing or speculating.
“There are countless times that they are on record as saying their policy is to make the province ‘ungovernable’,” Zille charged.
Mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, condemned “the spate of illegal protests that have caused great upheaval in parts of the city over the past few days.
“While the city respects the rights of its residents to protest, it cannot condone the actions of parties that have not gone through the nationally prescribed Gatherings Act and received permission to protest,” Smith said.
“Where protests endanger or inconvenience other residents, the city will support the SAPS in whatever way we can to protect our residents.”
He warned the city would use “all means at its disposal, including reviewing CCTV footage where available, to identify the culprits”.
“It is unclear who is behind the protests, but the possibility that these actions could be politically motivated cannot be ruled out.
“We, however, have noted the repeated public calls by Mr Andile Lili to embark on illegal action and we trust that these and other utterances will be investigated by the SAPS.”