South African Police and law enforcement remain on high alert in Zwelihle, Hermanus, today following recent violent protests by some community members. (Watch vlogger Adam Spires’ report from Hermanus below.)
The riots were started over land issues and housing, but have been exacerbated by protests for the release of a community leader who was arrested last week for inciting violence.
The unrest reached boiling point on Thursday evening when a police member was attacked by a man wielding an axe and was severely assaulted by protestors. The police member was airlifted to hospital where he is in a critical condition.
During the assault, his 9mm firearm and shotgun were stolen, according to the Western Cape police.
The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police, Francois Beukman, has strongly condemned the attack, and said: “Any attack on a SAPS member is a direct attack on the constitutional order” and that the attackers should face the full wrath of the law.
“We have seen too many attacks during 2018 where members of the SAPS have been attacked and killed.
“Communities and community leaders should be at the forefront to support members of the SAPS against any possible attack,” Beukman said.
Meanwhile, Police Minister Bheki Cele and provincial police heads, as well as Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, held a stakeholder engagement on Friday ahead of an imbizo in the area.
They listened to various stakeholders present at this meeting following Hermanus unrest. Cele hosted a Community Imbizo at the Sport Grounds, Zwelihle, Hermanus.
Zille said: “After an initial warm reception for the Minister, the crowd turned volatile and hostile in a flash when he said he would not order the release of Gcobani Ndzongana, the young man who is seen as the leader of the group called Zwelihle Renewal, which is believed to have ties with Black First Land First (BLF).
“This group has been responsible for attacking people, destroying property and an arson-based reign of terror against anyone who disagrees with them.”
According to Cele spokesperson, the people were too angry for genuine discussions, and Cele will meet the leaders again on Tuesday at 9am when everyone has calmed down and had time to think clearly about the best way forward.
Zille reported there has been “millions of Rands of damage to infrastructure, and (worse) people have been attacked and totally traumatised.
“It is an absolute miracle that we have not had another Marikana with the police firing on residents — even when the police are under attack they have been restrained, to the point where a policeman has severe head injuries after being attacked by an axe-wielding man. The search for solutions within the law, continues.”
Marthunis J Barnard from MyWhaleCoast Facebook page says the situation in Zwehlihle right now is calm, although “some intimidation reported.” He says police are patrolling the area and some routes around Zwe are closed.
Barnard said he’s aware of reports of continued intimidation, and people being “very afraid to move around as police may shoot them”.
He said: “I dont have any concrete answers right now. Only the hope that for now there will be no protest and then from Tuesday that there will be a lot more police here after the ministers visit.”
WATCH Hermanus Riots: What you need to know
***WARNING, CONTAINS PICTURES OF BLOODY INJURIES***Hermanus Riots – People need to know that this is happening!SHARE THIS FAR AND WIDE!!!To help please contacts Overstrand Municipality for details on organisations helping those in Zwelihle. To keep up to date follow Mywhalecoast – Kleinmond Hermanus Stanford Gansbaai
Posted by Adam Spires – Wannabe Vlogger on Friday, July 20, 2018