13 September 2017

South Africa: More Arrests As George Housing Protest Remains Volatile

Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee/GroundUp
Red Ants carrying out evictions (file photo).

Two more women were arrested as disgruntled Thembalethu residents blocked streets on Wednesday morning after shacks were demolished in the area, Southern Cape police said.

This followed the arrests of three women and a man for public violence on Tuesday.

The Western Cape human settlements department had on Tuesday enforced a court order allowing it to demolish 87 illegal structures on land intended for future housing projects.

On Wednesday, 300 people blocked the main entrance to the Thembalethu and the N2 with burning tyres and debris around 02:00, said Captain Malcolm Pojie.

Commuters were prevented from going to work and traffic had to be diverted through town.

"There was some pelting of rocks and road surfaces were damaged. We had to use rubber bullets to disperse the crowd," Pojie said.

Volatile

He said the situation remained volatile.

The closure of the roads and Thembalethu bridge had prevented Go George bus staff members and drivers from arriving at work. The municipality said this would affect service delivery.

Most of the main bus routes were covered but delays could be expected on routes 3, 58 and 13.

The N2 at Pacaltsdorp was re-opened just before 10:00.

George Municipality spokesperson Chantel Edwards-Klose said a memorandum would be handed to the Deputy Mayor Gerrit Pretorius at the Conville community hall on Wednesday morning.

The demolished structures were built on land which the human settlements department had set aside for mixed-use development.

Over 4 000 "housing opportunities" would be delivered in the area as part of the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme, said department spokesperson Nathan Adriaanse.

The first phase, consisting of 1 750 housing opportunities was already complete and beneficiaries had taken occupation.

The invaded area formed part of the second phase.

Head of Human Settlements Implementation in the department, Phila Mayisela, said the invasion of land would delay the housing project and affect many beneficiaries who had been waiting patiently for houses.

The four arrested for public violence will appear in the Thembalethu Magistrate's Court later on Wednesday.

Source: News24

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