WATCH | We're not your political football, say grieving Caledon protesters
"We will not vote." This was the message on Friday from protesters in Caledon, where two people died during a protest 24 hours earlier.
Residents warned against the politicisation of what they said was a service delivery protest in the Western Cape farming town's main street.
Community members who converged at a barricade at the main entrance to Uitsig township on Friday said the two protesters were shot by the police, and they were awaiting the outcome of a probe by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.
Western Cape community safety MEC Alan Winde said on Thursday there were conflicting reports that the protesters were trampled to death when the crowd was dispersed by the police.
On Friday, deputy police minister Bongani Mkongi met community leaders, municipal representatives and the police behind closed doors at Caledon police station.
Caledon residents claim the police shot the two people who were killed during a protest on Thursday. IPID is investigating whether the deaths were caused by a stamped when police dispersed the crowd or wether they were shot dead by police. pic.twitter.com/XcLRirXIXC— Aron Hyman (@aron_hyman) April 5, 2019
Listing their demands to TimesLIVE, protesters said their priority was land. They also want basic services and housing and claim there is corruption with the allocation of government housing.
Shortly after the deaths, Winde — the DA's premier candidate for the Western Cape — blamed "political parties" for inciting the protests. The ANC blamed the DA, saying its failure to deliver services to residents sparked the protests.
But protesters said they were not interested in the arguments of politicians, who would not be welcome to campaign in their township before the May 8 elections.
"We will not vote and we don't want political parties here until our requests are met," said resident Nolothando Bontso.
Caledon protesters say they are not voting until their demands are met. They have also rejected political parties after both the DA and the ANC have made political statements blaming each other for the deaths of two people in the protest on Thursday. pic.twitter.com/UW2JPit3tw— Aron Hyman (@aron_hyman) April 5, 2019
"We live in a very poor, very dirty place in Caledon. We have tried to report to the [Theewaterskloof] municipality but they do not listen.
"We want houses. People have stayed in Caledon for 20 years but they don’t have RDP houses. How can people who came in 2015/16 have houses? Corruption!"
Residents told TimesLIVE police fired teargas in between shacks and that mothers and children had to flee their homes and run to higher ground to escape the gas.
Community worker Magdelena Isaacs claimed the protest was peaceful and the police reaction unnecessary.
Another resident, Silosonke Makhokose, reflected the crowd's sentiment when he declared to cheers from fellow protesters: "No DA! No ANC! Only community people here, no political party has helped us."