Clermont: mob attacks Cope homes

2010-03-22 00:00

MEMBERS of the Congress of the People (Cope) in the Durban west township of Clermont had a rude awakening on Human Rights Day yesterday morning when they were attacked by a mob.

Speaking from an undisclosed venue in hiding, Cope branch secretary Zoleka Gumbi said about five houses and shops belonging to their members were attacked and torched by a mob of about 200 people in the KwaShembe settlement yesterday morning.

Police had to intervene and fired rubber bullets to disperse the mob.

“The home of our branch chairperson, Nonzuzo Hlongwane, is among those torched by the assailants. Our concern is that some of the perpetrators are known to us and have intimidation charges laid against them, but they were not arrested,” Gumbi said.

In a statement yesterday, Cope’s deputy regional secretary, Hlengiwe Hlophe, said it is alleged that a meeting took place in an open area in Clermont on Saturday morning where it was decided that Cope members must not be allowed in the township, but must be driven out.

“Cope is bitterly disappointed in this latest act of vandalism and intimidation. Cope leadership made a decision on Friday to approach the regional ANC leadership with an aim of working together to bring to a halt these criminal activities. The ANC declares that the perpetrators are not ANC members,” Hlophe said.

Police spokesman Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said according to their reports, about 600 people were toyi-toyiing and threatening others in the KwaShembe area yesterday morning.

“Local police were called and warned marchers to disperse. Seemingly no co-operation was forthcoming from them and the Public Order police unit had to be called … People were further warned to disperse and failed. Rubber bullets had to be used to disperse them,” Mdunge said.

By yesterday eveningthe situation had returned to normal, Mdunge said.

According to police reports, no houses were torched but two shacks were reportedly damaged.

A meeting between the ANC, Cope, community policing forum and local police is scheduled to take place at the KwaDabeka police station at 11am today to try and resolve the volatile situation in the area.

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