Hermanus 'tense' after land grab thwarted‚ police station fire
A satellite police station was partially burnt and there were reports of intimidation on Monday in a tense standoff after a thwarted attempt by members in the area to restore calm.
Overberg police commander Brigadier Donovan Heilbron confirmed that nobody had been injured in the fire.
Police reinforcements‚ dressed in riot gear and carrying shotguns‚ were deployed after an attempted land invasion over the weekend.
At least 25 people were arrested in the town on the southern Cape coast after scores of people marked out plots on vacant land.
Francois Hugo tweeted earlier on Monday that people were being intimidated. “We need to help these people. Staff can't be at work today due to this riot. Their lives are in danger. They are being threatened.”
Heilbron said the situation was tense on Monday.
“Nine suspects are appearing in court this morning on charges of public violence and for being in possession of dangerous weapons. The police have increased deployment and a further contingent (Public Violence Unit) joined them last night. Let’s give law enforcement agencies the opportunity to do their work without any interference‚” said Heilbron.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) proportional representation councillor in Overstrand Benet Molefe told TimesLIVE that houses being built by the municipality were not sufficient to service the needs of the poor.
“The community has been in constant contact with the housing department of the municipality. The MEC of human settlement is also well aware of the current struggle of the backyard dwellers of Overstrand Municipality and the MEC had a meeting with the community without reverting back to them since last year‚” he said.
He said the EFF was “taken aback by the lack of action from the municipality and the provincial government”.
“The municipality is busy building low-cost housing‚ but the process of handing over is a close guarded secret and not transparent at all. The houses being built are not sufficient to service the needs of the poor. The EFF is known for its stance of expropriation of land without compensation and supports the occupation of land in Overstrand‚” he added.
Red Ant security personnel were called in on Friday to dismantle illegal structures and evict people who had occupied land. A group of about 200 people from Zwelihle had protested outside the municipal offices‚ vowing not to be evicted. Municipal manager Coenie Groenewald said the land occupation was illegal.
Hermanus Community Policing Forum spokesperson Caroline Gabb said on Monday: “The situation in Zwelihle is tense. Residents are being intimidated and prevented from going to work. Taxis aren’t operating.
“There is a crowd of protesters moving around but the police are managing to contain [them]. Access to Hermanus CBD is clear. We recommend that people avoid the township …. There are meetings planned for this morning with community members and the municipality and other[s] [concerned]‚” said Gabb.
Ronald Nutt shared a video of a standoff between community members and the police earlier on Monday.