Protests 'to destabilise municipality'
Cape Town - A protest by Villiersdorp residents was an attempt to destabilise the Threewaters district municipality, its mayor said on Monday.
"Recent demonstrations in Grabouw and Villiersdorp leave me with no doubt that it attempts to destabilise the municipality that has been very peaceful and effective for the last six years," Chris Punt said.
The poor would suffer as a result of the damage caused by protesters to two community halls and a fire engine.
Community members were unhappy that the municipality did not provide services to an informal settlement on a farm called Destiny, said municipal manager Stan Wallace.
The municipality could not legally provide the services because it did not own the land, but was in the process of trying to buy it, he said.
Earlier, Captain Frederick van Wyk said the trouble began at around 05:00 on Monday when about 150 residents burned tyres on a street corner.
Some commuters were prevented from going to work.
A local leader, who usually led protest marches, was called to talk to the crowd without success.
Protesters insisted on speaking to Wallace and handing him a memorandum of demands.
About 800 people then marched to the municipal offices, destroying facilities along the way.
"The memorandum was handed over to Wallace but the crowd was still unruly. The protesters were warned to disperse without success," Van Wyk said.
Wallace said the memorandum contained a request that the town council meet with representatives of the protesters within five days.
Later he was asked to meet with them the same day, but Wallace said he was unable to reach their leader.
Police used water cannons to disperse the crowd. Residents retaliated by throwing stones and bricks, damaging the post office and municipal offices.
They also threw a beer bottle at someone, upon which police officers fired rubber bullets at them.
The protesters retreated to the local township Goniwe Park, where they burned down the community hall.
Van Wyk said a case of public violence and malicious damage to property had been opened. No arrests had been made and no injuries reported.
The situation was being monitored.
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