Running battles rage across Cape’s Marikana
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Cape Town - Rioters ran through the smoke carrying cases of Coca-Cola after looting a wholesaler in Marikana, Philippi, on Friday morning as the area once again flared into violence while evictions were under way.
At the time of publication, running battles raged across several square kilometres as police clashed with angry residents.
Small armies of rioters, carrying rocks and makeshift shields, kept police under constant attack.
The police, who had a helicopter circling, retaliated with tear gas and thunderflashes.
At about 10.30am the crowd broke into a Cash&Carry building and raided a stack of crates of Coca-Cola, screaming: “Free drinks!”
Police riot control vehicles raced to the site as looters sought new targets.
A vehicle fleeing the violent mob at the wholesalers smashed into a metro police car.
Shortly after 11am a lone police vehicle came under heavy attack, surrounded by hundreds of residents, some searching for petrol to make bombs.
Sources said on Friday’s evictions would see more than 600 shacks demolished by teams.
It will be the largest number taken down by authorities since evictions in the area began, with an average of 100 dwellings toppled daily during previous operations.
The current round of evictions are taking place on land bordering on contested property which over the past two weeks has been a hotbed of conflict as law enforcement officers, the City of Cape Town’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit and police have battled to remove squatters from private land in the Marikana township.
Previous skirmishes have seen both residents and police injured as rubber bullets, stun grenades and rocks flew.
Numerous rounds of evictions have been unsuccessful as defiant residents rebuilt their dwellings overnight.
In the past, police have been recalled after the situation was deemed to be too dangerous.
Residents said they would continue to build on private land and that there was nothing the city could do to stop them.
Tumi Ramahlele, a resident and community leader, did not respond to calls at the time of the trouble on Friday morning.
Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith said: “The City of Cape Town’s law enforcement agencies are assisting the South African Police Service with an operation in Philippi around the removal of illegal structures from privately owned land.
“The land owners have interdicts in place against illegal occupation. The City of Cape Town will continue to uphold the rule of law and an orderly, just and equitable housing delivery system. Anyone who insists on continuing to invade this land is breaking the law and they should be prepared to face the consequences.”
Today’s evictions follow operations this week in Enkanini, where law enforcement and police were pelted with stones in the Khayelitsha township. Smith said land invasions in Philippi were “clearly politically motivated”, while this may not be the case in the other township.