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Port Elizabeth - Police in Hankey in the Eastern Cape have established a Joint Operations Centre to monitor and respond to outbreaks of violence in the citrus town which have seen 17 protesters arrested for public violence.

Police spokesperson, Sergeant Majola Nkohli, said a section of the R331 between Hankey and Patensie was closed on Tuesday and motorists were advised to use alternative routes. 

Nkohli said at around 6am on Tuesday, a group of about 1 000 protesters started marching towards Hankey Central Business area and police barricaded the road to stop the group from proceeding to the area. 

He said protesters raised several demands which included the release of seven suspects who were arrested on Monday.

It was further alleged that when protesters did not get their way, they ran amok and started throwing stones. 

Nkohli said police used rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the crowd. An additional ten protesters were arrested. The latest arrests bring a total of suspects arrested during the ongoing protests to 17. 

Nkohli said the situation was still tense and community leaders were addressing protesters in an attempt to end the violence.

The ten suspects arrested on Tuesday are aged between 20 and 54 and are due to appear in the Hankey Magistrate’s Court soon on charges ranging from public violence to malicious damage to property.

African News Agency (ANA)