Violent protestors are blocking the N2 between Somerset West and Cape Town, as they carry out a “land grab” on a private piece of property, opposite a school in the area. As reported by SAPeople, the illegal land invasion began last Tuesday when people began knocking posts into the land to stake their claim on it.
A witness in the area told SAPeople the protesters are stopping the residents of the suburb Nomzama from leaving, “effectively imprisoning them”. Another described the scene as a “war zone” with tyres burning and protesters looting, throwing stones at cars and setting them alight.
“Traffic is snarled all the way on the surface streets, and the school is closed today for security reasons,” a local mother told SAPeople.
On Monday the school had reassured parents “not to worry” and that exit drills had been practiced with their security firm.
However the situation escalated yesterday, with some protestors blowing up a substation which knocked out nearby power.
One of the school’s learners sent his mom a message just after 13h00 saying: “Bomb went off across the road. We’re safe. Half the class went home.”
The mom said: “Police were firing teargas into the crowd of protesters. The tear gas blew back into the school yard so the kids couldn’t go outside and most of them left due to trouble breathing.”
Heyns de Waal, chief operating officer at GBMED RESCUE, told News24 the protesters turned violent at around 21h00 Wednesday night. “At first they started burning tyres sporadically, but they came out in force at 21:00 and started targeting businesses along the N2 at Broadlands Road. We then deployed officers to the scene.” He said after the South African Police Service (SAPS) and metro police moved in to remove the protestors “everything then just erupted into chaos.”
De Waal said: “It’s as though it’s been well organised. They [protesters] are all along the N2, into the city, even. I can see black smoke billowing from my house.”
Another Cape Town resident told SAPeople that according to WhatsApp groups the people who are claiming the land are not the locals, and are people who have “flooded in” from other areas in a plot that many believe is politically orchestrated to topple the DA (Democratic Alliance) in the Western Province.
“This is a carbon copy of what went down last year in Hermanus. The community used to all live very happily side by side and then people flooded in and the vibe changed…”
She said stress levels and emotions are very high at the moment in the area.
One witness this morning said: “Thousands of innocent people are stuck behind the burning tyres and protesters and can’t get out to work.”
On a Somerset West Facebook group, one member said: “I live a block from the unrest on the N2. Very scary. Sounds like the Wild West. Shooting and screaming. My dog is a wreck.”
Another said: “I can see everything from my window at home along the N2 and I work at Asla Park which is very scary today as I heard they wanna march in here.”
Cape Talk reports that protestors in Somerset West and in Khayelitsha, Cape Town have taken to the streets to “vent their frustrations over housing and service delivery in the area”.
One witness said she had visited the township early this morning to see the vet, and “had to leave in a hurry, through the looters and past caspers. Most of the residents are just as shocked as people on the outside.”
Another confirmed that “surprisingly it’s only a handful of thugs creating havoc and holding their community to ransom. Most appear to be onlookers. These thugs need to be dealt with, quickly, effectively and if need be harshly. This is no peaceful protest about service delivery.”
ASLA confirmed to SAPeople that the private property is owned by them. It had been earmarked for schools, but was declined by the Department.
ASLA’s CEO Werner Jerling told SAPeople that on Friday, ASLA Constructions got a court interdict to have the protesters removed. “So at the moment these people stake out their land in the morning, and every evening ASLA removes it,” Jerling said on Tuesday.
He too suspects that it is a politically motivated ploy and that sadly, people in the area are being used as pawns. ASLA has three divisions, one of which focuses on low cost housing and has already built over 40,000 houses.
According to local media reports, there is also land owned by Sanral; and protests have been taking place since this morning at three other locations too (Spine Road offramp, Jakes Gerwel and Nyanga.)
The MyCiti bus service is not running at the moment.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has repeatedly said that land reform in South Africa will follow a parliamentary process and that the government will not tolerate “land grabs”.
One of the local parents said: “What a sad state of affairs. Come on S.A leadership. Don’t let anarchy rule. As my son said yesterday: “Jeez mom that was a hectic day”.”
Meanwhile motorists have been are warned of protests in and around Tshwane with burning tyres along the Daspoort tunnel and disruptions around Van Der Hof Road.
The DA’s Jacques Maree tweeted: “When DA coalitions took over metros in 2016 the ANC knew this was a precursor to losing provinces. Unable to win back those votes through delivery, governance etc, their only remaining election strategy is to destabilise those areas ahead of 8 May. #TshwaneShutdown #AlexShutdown.”
WATCH Land grab Somerset West and Strand
This is absolutely ridiculous
Posted by Savana Nadler on Wednesday, April 10, 2019