Protest chaos in Cape

2012-08-14 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Protesters in Khayelitsha stoned buses, trains and two metro police vehicles in the Western Cape yesterday.

On the N2 large stones were thrown at cars and the traffic on the highway was slowed for hours.

Small organised groups of protesters led police a merry dance as they disappeared in one place and appeared at another to hold illegal marches.

Khayelitsha residents told sister paper Die Burger they were protesting for better service delivery. The Western Cape government said, however, that the ANC Youth League was behind the protests. The league denied the allegations.

Several roads in Philippi and Khayelitsha were closed for protest marches yesterday morning. Last night several main roads in Khayelitsha and Philippi were still closed traffic.

The lanes of the N2 going into Cape Town were closed to traffic at 7 pm.

During the day, hundreds of residents burned tyres between Spine and Mew and threw rocks at the cars passing on the N2. As a result this main artery into Cape Town was delayed for hours and many people arrived late for work.

Warrant Officer November Filander, a provincial police spokesperson, said small groups of protesters were still throwing rocks in parts, but large numbers of law enforcers were patrolling the troublespots.

He said 10 people had been arrested, and no damage to police vehicles or injury to officers had been reported.

Last Friday more than 60 people were arrested for illegal protests in Nyanga and Gugulethu. They threw stones on the N2 and a petrol bomb at the police.

Bronwen Dyke, spokesperson for the Golden Arrow bus service, said no buses were running in Khayelitsha yesterday.

She said five buses were damaged by rocks and a driver had been slightly injured.

The protesters also targeted Metrorail stations around Khayelitsha. They burned rubbish on the tracks and threw rocks at the trains.

When a group of protesters found two empty metro police vehicles, they were quick to stone them.

A man with a rock in his hand first checked to see if there were any officers in the cars.

When he saw the vehicles were unmanned, he hit the rock against the windscreen of one car and yelled: “It’s empty, it’s empty!”

About 50 residents, all with stones popped out from behind the informal shacks and set about damaging the cars.

Several metro officers arrived to chase off the vandals with rubber bullets.

Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, spokersperson for the Cape municipal disaster management unit, said the residents had been protesting since Sunday evening. He said they had tried to block the N2 at 4 am yesterday morning, but police and metro officers prevented them and had cleaned up the road by 4.50 am.

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