Khayelitsha was brought to a standstill as protesters blocked most of the main roads on Thursday morning. Picture: Phando Jikelo / African News Agency(ANA)
Khayelitsha was brought to a standstill as protesters blocked most of the main roads on Thursday morning. Picture: Phando Jikelo / African News Agency(ANA)

Shops looted, buildings set on fire in protests ahead of elections

By Asanda Sokanyile Time of article published Apr 13, 2019

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Cape Town - Police have issued a warning that lawlessness will not be tolerated in areas where protests have flared up over the last few days.

Police spokeswoman Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said Public Order Police and other law enforcement agencies were monitoring protests in the Lwandle area, where over 1000 residents were participating in a protest.

She confirmed that “the protest is ongoing at the Lwandle area, several businesses were looted overnight and (at least) 31 people were arrested since Thursday. Police and other law enforcement agencies are on the ground and will remain there until law and order is restored”.

Yesterday, Lwandle remained a no-go zone with road closures in place as protesters vowed not to let up.

“We will not back down, we have been suffering in backyards for many years. They charge us high rentals, many of us are unemployed and we also have families to feed. We were promised years ago to be moved to serviced land, but that has not happened so we have identified land for ourselves and we will not let it go,” a 35-year-old protester said, under condition of anonymity.

Nobomvu Njoli, who lives in a shack in Nomzamo, said they had been pleading for land for many years but their pleas had fallen on deaf ears.

“We need houses, but we get the usual empty promises. We have now decided to take the land because even the government has been promising to get back the land from the white people but it still remains with them. What are we expected to do, where are we supposed to live?

“We will not sit around and watch vacant land not being used and accept being told that it is owned by a white person in our country,” she said.

It is alleged that 58 Somali-owned shops, a liquor store and Silulo Ulutho Technologies, had been looted during the violent protest in Lwandle.

Founder and managing director of Silulo Ulutho Technologies, Luvuyo Rani, confirmed the looting at one of its franchises.

“During the protests at the Nomzamo Centre in Strand, protesters set the centre alight. Our branch was looted of 40 computers and the facilities were vandalised.

“This is devastating for both the franchisor as well as the students and customers of the Silulo Strand branch. A case has been opened and the police are investigating.

“We as Silulo will work towards assisting the Strand franchise in recovering from this setback,” he said.

There were land grabs in Strand and Silversands, a shutdown in Khayelitsha, a protest over land and basic services in Happy Valley near Blackheath and a delay in the opening of a new shopping centre in Philippi.

Yesterday, a newly formed group of people from Langa, Nyanga, Gugulethu and Fisantekraal calling itself Ntsebenziswano invaded houses on the Forest Village Housing Project in Eersterivier.

Townships in other parts of the country also faced uproar.

Alexandra township in Johannesburg has been inaccessible since last week after thousands of residents took to the streets for better services and improved living conditions.

Residents burnt tyres and blocked several major roads leading into the area, resulting in people being unable to get to work.

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba is engaging with Alexandra residents.

In Limpopo, protesters said elections would not take place if their demands were not met.

City of Cape Town senior traffic official Richard Coleman confirmed that another protest flared up yesterday morning in Eerste River and Forest Road was closed in both directions between Bob’s Way and Marigold Street.

Riots in some areas led 21 schools being closed and access to health care threatened.

Health department spokesperson Colleen Smart confirmed that the shutdown led to staff at the Khayelitsha District Hospital not being able to enter or exit the hospital.

“The Khayelitsha sub-district management confirmed that access to this volatile area is a problem; staff have not been able to get to work from outside the area, the night shift at Khayelitsha District Hospital have not been able to leave and day staff have been unable to take over,” she said.

“Services are suffering because of this action and, unfortunately, those who most need a health service today will be negatively affected,” said Health MEC, Nomafrench Mbombo.

A 36-week pregnant woman, who did not want to be named, said she had been unable to get to an appointment at the hospital due to the blocked roads.

Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said: “I strongly condemn the violent action that has been taking place in areas of the city and that has led to concerning disruption of our schools.”

DA premier candidate Alan Winde said: “Reports indicate the ANC councillors had allegedly told residents they could occupy the land.

“This illegal instigation by the ANC to try to garner support ahead of the elections is undemocratic, dangerous and divisive.”

The ANC called on the DA to take responsibility for the instability in all of the city areas.

Weekend Argus

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