Over the past few months, the Western Cape coastal town of Hermanus has been subject to protest actions. Marches were initially unleashed by unhappy stand owners from Zwelihle who have been promised housing by the municipality since 1998. The crisis was solved after an agreement was reached after numerous negotiations between the municipality and stake-holders.
Riots erupted again three weeks ago, however, when a radical group of about 200 supporters of Gqobani Ndzongana, employee of the Department of Correctional Services, started terrorising residents of Zwelihle. Homes and buildings in Zwelihle are being plundered and residents are prevented from going to work. The group tries daily to invade Hermanus, but is kept at bay by the SAPS. Gcobani Ndzongana and about 40 other rioters have been detained since last week, and rioters demand their release. Helen Zille, Western Cape Premier, visited Hermanus on Friday, 13 July, but was bombarded with stones after an attempt to address the group.
“The situation in Hermanus is a clear attempt by a small radical group to destabilise the political situation in Hermanus – and eventually the whole of the Western Cape. It is unacceptable that a small group of radicals keep the 35 000 residents in Zwelihle hostage. It is time for the community of Zwelihle to stand up, isolate the rioters and take back control of their residential area. The solution does not lie with the politicians or the SAPS, but with the community itself,” says Thomas van Dalen, AfriForum’s Training Manager for Community Safety, and resident of Hermanus.
About 230 Western Cape members of the SAPS have been deployed in Hermanus since Monday, 9 July.
“AfriForum’s Overstrand branch deployed neighbourhood watch members in nearby suburbs to assist the SAPS and prevent rioters from entering these suburbs. The neighbourhood watches are of much help to the SAPS and proof of the value that well-trained, organised neighbourhood watches can add in these situations,” says Elmarie van Dalen, AfriForum’s Overstrand Branch Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Hermanus Community Policing Forum.
Minster of Police Bheki Cele, Adv. Lennit Max and Helen Zille will visit Hermanus on Friday, 20 July to deliberate with the Zwelihle community.
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