Violence erupts after Grabouw meeting
Cape Town - Violence erupted in Grabouw in the Western Cape on Wednesday morning after an unsuccessful meeting to try to end a service delivery protest.
Theewaterskloof municipal officials, Grabouw Civic Organisation (GCO) leaders and representatives of protesting and rioting groups, attended the meeting at the Grabouw police station.
On Monday, protesters marched to the municipal offices in Pineview to hand over a memorandum listing their grievances. Grievances included a lack of housing, poor and expensive electricity supply, and bad roads.
Wednesday's meeting ended with arguments continuing outside the police station. Soon afterwards violence erupted.
Earlier, Grabouw was calm and the N2 was re-opened with a detour through Ou Kaapse Weg. However, it was closed again after cars were stoned.
The first signs of a repetition of violence emerged when a group of more than 100 people gathered at the house of GCO secretary Margaret le Roux.
Le Roux said people threatened to burn her house down if she did not address them.
She left the emergency meeting, fearing for the safety of her adopted son and daughters, aged nine and 10. They were being looked after by her 14-year-old daughter alone at her home.
GCO supporters from surrounding areas came to her house. After she spoke to the two groups police arrived to defuse the situation.
“The group was organised by DA 1/8Democratic Alliance 3/8 supporters who approached close friends with the threat of burning my house,” Le Roux said.
Zwai Bhangazana, also of the GCO and who had been at the forefront of the protests, said the GCO was not satisfied with the outcomes of the emergency meeting.
“There was no sign that our demands for service delivery would be met satisfactorily,” Bhangazana said.
“We will now have to go back and convey this message. They have warned us that they want to continue with the unrest and I have no idea how they will react.”
Theewaterskloof mayor Chris Punt said a list of answers to all the grievances was handed to those at the emergency meeting.
He was accompanied by Theewaterskloof municipal manager Stan Wallace.
Soon after the meeting, cars were stoned in Ou Kaapse Weg and the access from the N2 was closed again.
A group of more than 1000 people then gathered in Hillside attempting to move through Slangpark to reach the N2. Police and the public order protection unit were patrolling the townships to disperse crowds.
By early afternoon they succeeded in preventing rioters from crossing the berm running along Slangpark to barricade the N2.
Smaller groups continued to try to rush onto the N2 to burn tyres.
The sound of rubber bullets, teargas and stun grenades being fired was heard continuously, as on Monday and Tuesday.
On Wednesday morning the building housing the traffic department's testing facilities was set on fire.
On Tuesday night, windows were shattered at the building of home affairs in Ou Kaapse Weg, and at the Umyezo wama Apile Primary School.
One security company reported that their guards were too scared to come to work, leaving clients without security services.
The Caledon cluster of policing forums, which include the chairpersons of the policing forums of Grabouw, Caledon, Greyton/Genadendal, Villiersdorp and Riviersonderend, all towns in the Theewaterskloof municipality, planned a meeting for Wednesday afternoon at the Grabouw police station to see what they could contribute to find a solution.