Thursday, June 20, 2013
Wallacedene residents on the rampage
Cape town - Somali shops were looted, tyres were burnt and police and journalists had rocks hurled at them as angry Wallacedene residents went on the rampage over housing and service delivery issues on Wednesday.
Residents said they were angry because they had been waiting for proper housing for years and they claimed that government servants and Somali shop owners were buying and renting RDP houses, allegedly from ward councillor Brenda Hansen.
On Wednesday, about 50 illegal structures were removed from the area by city law enforcement officials, and this seemed to fuel the anger of about 1 000 residents.
Police spokesman Thembinkosi Kinana said police had negotiated with the protesters and five people were arrested.
“On arrival at the scene, the police negotiated with protesters who refused to leave the place,” he said.
“At that moment the police ordered the protesters to disperse. It is estimated that about 15 shops in the area were affected by the violence.”
Kinana called on residents to protest peacefully.
“We call upon the people not to use violent acts as a form of resolving their problems. The police respect the rights of the people to protest peacefully. However, where acts of violence which infringe on the rights of people are reported, the police have an obligation to intervene and protect lives and property.”
Hansen said regular meetings had been held with the temporary relocation area (TRA) committee members and were aware that residents were angry about a number of issues, especially housing.
“A meeting was scheduled for Monday at 2pm, as agreed with the TRA committee. However this could not take place as some criminals damaged houses and uprooted trees.”
Earlier in the week, residents protested about the same issues and uprooted trees and burnt tyres before marching to the housing office in Kraaifontein.
Hansen denied the allegations made by protesters, and said she was not aware of RDP houses being sold.
“I would, however, urge anybody with information to please forward that to the SAPS, myself or the mayor.”
Resident Skhumbuzo Mkhize said it was unfair that government employees were able to buy the houses.
“The houses are meant for the poor. Here, if you want a house, you must be able to pay. They cost between R15 000 and R18 000, and that is easy money for a police or a teacher to get.”
Mkhize said they had been living “under uncomfortable circumstances” for more than 15 years and they had had enough, adding that Somali businesses were targeted because their owners were also buying RDP houses.
“Now we are burning stuff and making a mess here in our area, but we will loot in town and even go to Parliament,” he said.
Photographers and journalists were subjected to violence and some damage to property.
A Cape Argus photographer was taken into a shack to hide, after threats from protesters. He escaped with a bruise on his leg.
Another photographer was threatened while walking through the area. Three boys chased him and one pulled out a knife.
Residents intervened and escorted the journalists out of the area.
An SABC cameraman was hit on the back of his head by a brick thrown at him.
Kinana said those arrested would be charged with public violence. A strong police presence would remain in the area.