Protesters damage property in Langa riot

2016-09-22 06:00
Protesters take cover as police opens fire on them. PHOTO: Lulama Zenzile

Protesters take cover as police opens fire on them. PHOTO: Lulama Zenzile

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About 70 residents from Langa were expected to appear in the Bishop Lavis Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday following a violent protest in the area on Tuesday.

Captain Nondumiso Paul, communication officer at the local police station, said the residents, of varying ages, were facing charges ranging from public violence, malicious damage to property and arson.

Paul said the suspects were detained at the Athlone Police Station and some at the Cape Town Central Police station.

Protesters allegedly burned the local post office down, including government and private cars.

Some shops were also damaged.

Ward 52 Councillor Samkelo John, said the protesters were angered by the response from the City of Cape Town following a memorandum asking the city to refurbish the old hostels.

“The city had responded that there was no budget to develop the hostels,” he said.

John added the the protest was hijacked by criminal elements, which explains why it turned out violent.

“We were so disturbed by it(violence) and we did not expect it. It was hijacked by criminal elements. We condemn it,” John said.

The City of Cape Town released a statement which condemned the protest in the strongest possible terms.

They said the violent protests affected the lives of law-abiding residents in the area, as well as commuters.

“The protest today (Tuesday), led by a group with whom the City has been engaging, is affecting service delivery and the ability of the community at large to perform their daily responsibilities in a safe manner.

The City has had to suspend refuse removal services due to the protest action and subsequent road closures in and out of Langa.

We will endeavour to attend to any backlog once the situation normalises and it is safe to do so.

In the interim, residents should please keep their bins inside their properties until the roads have reopened,” the statement said.

It said the scale of violence and destructive behaviour will simply not be tolerated.

The statement said the group is essentially asking the City to prioritise their interests ahead of others in a similar situation.

They have demanded further upgrades to the hostels in Langa. The City has explained that Langa has already benefitted from the conversion of some of the hostels into family units as well as the completion of Phase 1 of the Langa Hostels Community Residential Units (i.e. Hamilton Naki Square), with Phase 2 on its way.

According to the city , to date, 463 families who were living in the New Flats and Special Quarters hostels and in the Siyahlala informal settlement in Langa have benefitted from this redress programme and moved into their homes in December 2015.

This forms part of the City’s plan to develop a total of 1 300 CRUs within Langa over the next three years.

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