Malmesbury - Police arrested 26 people for public violence during hours of running battles with protesters in Malmesbury yesterday after Lingelethu residents took to the streets and tried to burn down a municipal building.
Residents, angry at a perceived halt in the rollout of government housing in recent years, succeeded in seeing the N7 closed for most of the morning and early afternoon. The N7 is adjacent to the township.
There were riotous scenes as hundreds of protesters charged at police armoured vehicles while pelting journalists and Public Order Police with stones. Roads were blocked with burning tyres and municipal vehicles vandalised.
Police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades. A police helicopter circled low. From time to time, a group of officers broke away from the main police contingent. As they returned, they were seen dragging protesters into waiting police vehicles.
The riot came in response to a perceived failure of the Swartland Municipality to respond to a memorandum handed to it last week asking for “decent housing” for all the township’s residents, and improved water, electricity and sewer line services. Residents also demanded they receive electricity directly from Eskom.