Riebeek Kasteel 'tense' after violent protests

12 June 2018 - 15:44 By Petru Saal
Riebeek Kasteel protest.
Riebeek Kasteel protest.
Image: Supplied by SA Police Service via Twitter

Police were monitoring a “tense” atmosphere on Tuesday after violent service delivery protests rocked the towns of Riebeek Kasteel and Riebeek West outside Cape Town.

Law enforcement agencies and police have arrested 21 people since the weekend‚ when hundreds of people took to the streets of the towns‚ about an hour’s drive from Cape Town‚ which is famous for its wine and olives.

Foreign owned spaza shops and bottle stores were looted‚ a clinic was set on fire and municipal buildings damaged.

“Police and other law enforcement agencies will remain in the area until law and order is restored‚” said police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk on Tuesday.

A meeting with aggrieved members of the community was scheduled for Tuesday.

Roger Roman‚ chairperson of the local community policing forum‚ told TimesLIVE: “Part of the problem is that the leadership of the protesters is not part of an organisation and they don’t have a mandate. In other words‚ on whose behalf are they negotiating?

“On Saturday night the protest flared up. On Monday was the worst day. It has been going on in both towns. There has been a huge response‚ we have more than 100 policemen in the valley. Normally we would have two police vehicles at once.

“The fence was ripped‚ there is some internal damage at the cellar‚ (the protesters) got into the boardroom. The bottle stores in both towns were looted and the alcohol just added to their anger. Municipal buildings were damaged. They looted all the shops in Esterhof‚ they are all empty. They burned the clinic‚ I don’t think it was completely destroyed.

And in Cape Town‚ protests continued to flare up as residents demand better access to housing and services.

City Law Enforcement spokesman Wayne Dyason said over the past few weeks‚ officers had been trying to restore calm as residents took their pleas for housing and services to the streets.

“These are issues surrounding the provision of housing‚ and people tend to show their displeasure with the current situation by invading public open spaces and erecting structures‚” he said.

“It is generally stoning and lighting of tyres‚ resulting in roads having to be closed for a short period. Then we also have damage to council infrastructure‚ traffic lights have been destroyed‚ council buildings have been damaged.”

Municipal IQ‚ which collects data on service delivery protests‚ said in April that the first quarter of 2018 had seen a busy‚ if not unprecedented‚ tally of service delivery protests across the country.

Municipal IQ economist Karen Heese said‚ “Perhaps most significant‚ although not a direct service delivery protest‚ was a wave of land invasions in metros which will likely become a major policing priority and increase the jostle and demands of protesters to be heard over each other”.

Heese added: “Gauteng has receded somewhat as a site of protests‚ but remains narrowly ahead of the Eastern Cape which is the second most protest-prone province this year.”

Other provinces affected by protests included KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo where access to basic services tended to drive protest grievances.