While violence flared again tonight in parts of Hermanus, in South Africa, tourists have been reassured that the main town is still safe and unaffected… and in fact tourists are welcome.
“Tourist are encouraged to continue with their tour plans, the whales are here!!” says Mywhalecoast facebook page which represents Kleinmond, Hermanus, Stanford and Gansbaai.
Mywhalecoast’s Marthunis J Barnard has become the trusted voice of Hermanus, letting locals know which roads are closed and where protests are taking place so that residents can remain safe.
Marthunis, who calls himself an ‘amateur reporter’ has been filing live reports from the town and posting photos he has taken (see below).
At 20h45 on Wednesday evening he reported that the crowd has now dispersed although a small group remains in Swartdam Road “but without much activity going on. Arrests were made during the last incident. SAPS, POP, Law Enforcement and Traffic officials are monitoring. R43 is open and Zwe (Zwelihle) access roads are closed.”
Marthunis stresses that the town of Hermanus is open for trading and not at risk.
He says the only disruptions may be that of intermittent closing of the R43.
The situation, he says, is contained to one area only.
Today the South African Police Service and municipal workers were engaged in a mop up, cleaning up debris from the roads after almost a week of violent protests. According to Marthunis lessons learnt from the past few days include that protestors’ rocks no longer get merely moved to the side of the street, but actually removed to the dumping ground.
He says in a nutshell that the protests were sparked by the arrest of community leader, Xobani Nzongani, who will appear in court tomorrow morning.
Marthunis says the democratically elected members of the ward had requested a perimeter fence. It was approved in the budget and erected. But, according to Marthunis, non-democratically elected leader – Xobani – then notified people on social media that they would remove it… which they did (amongst other things), and this led to his arrest.
Xobani’s charge sheet has not been made public, but it’s believed to include enticement to violence, damage of state property and enticing a community to commit violent crimes.
Marthunis says there is a heavy police presence in the area. Earlier today he said the Theewaterskloof Dam team were exercising a ‘zero tolerance’ approach – including teargas and rubber bullets – ensuring that law and order prevailed, even thwarting the use of petrol bombs.
He said contingencies are in place to manage events tonight and tomorrow… and added the “good news” that a march permit for 20,000 people to protest outside the Hermanus Magistrate’s Court on Thursday has been denied.
Marthunis has however cautioned residents to stay calm and remain indoors, and warned that loud bangs may be heard.
“Please don’t be a ‘nana and try to drive these roads in the evening unless it’s 100% safe,” he said.
Marthunis has praised SAPS’ handling of the situation and asked residents to “support our men and women in blue”. Earlier today he said 13 people had been arrested after about 800 gathered at the sewage plant and marched. “Some tried to take the R45,” said Marthunis during a live feed, “but only managed for a minute – outclassed by our brave men and women in blue.”
On a positive note, Marthunis says he has seen “some good coming out of this” – with a sense of communities stepping forward from Mount Pleasant to Germany.
“Let’s be safe, let’s get this over, and get this sorted out,” he said.
Marthunis also revealed that plans are in place to begin “cultural tours of Zwe to promote our diversity and support local businesses. We will keep you updated.”
South African Police Minister Cele is expected in Hermanus on Friday.
UPDATE Thursday 19 July 2018: Hermanus community rallies together, police praised.
No, this is not Syria…
No this is not Syria. This is #ZweHostageDay8 outside Hermanus.
Situation that unfounded tonight in Swartdam Road Zwelihle
Posted by Mywhalecoast – Kleinmond Hermanus Stanford Gansbaai on Wednesday, July 18, 2018
A WORD OF THANKSI have recieved so many words of thanks and hugs today I feel like a celebrity.To everyone cheering…