Rubber bullets and teargas were fired overnight in Zwelihle, Hermanus as unrest flared up over claims that the arrest of a local community activist was imminent.
Hermanus police’s Colonel Luthando Nosilela said the area was “volatile but under control” because all law enforcement agencies were on site and more reinforcements were being dispatched to the town.
He said the protest erupted after a memorandum was handed over to the police to demand the withdrawal of charges against Zwelihle Renewal’s Gcobani Ndzongana. Charges of incitement of violence and destruction of public property were supposedly laid against him.
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But Nosilela said no charges had been laid against him, although police were investigating.
“We don’t have any information. We can’t arrest anyone with emotion. We arrest on facts,” he said.
The group also accused the station of maladministration – which Nosilela said was unsubstantiated – and demanded that the Minster of Police address them.
The unrest broke out after their demands were relayed.
Police responded by firing teargas and rubber bullets.
Unrest throughout the night
Nosilela warned that authorities would soon start arresting those who were involved.
On Wednesday morning, tyres were burning, roads were barricaded, and incidents of stone throwing were reported.
It is understood that there were three groups – a total of close to 1 000 protesters – and more locals were being mobilised.
Zwelihle ward councillor Valerie Pungupungu told News24 that people who did not participate in the protests stayed indoors after the unrest continued throughout the night.
Nosilela said he believed there was a political agenda.
Meanwhile, the provincial health department has confirmed that the Hermanus Community Day Centre would be closed on Wednesday due to the unrest and would “hopefully” reopen on Thursday.
Patients were referred to their nearest clinic for medical treatment and to Hermanus Hospital for emergencies.
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