Pretoria – The City of Tshwane was counting the cost on Friday of a violent protest in Refilwe, Cullinan, where municipal property was damaged when residents took to the streets to protest.
Spokesperson Selby Bokaba said future service delivery would be hampered in the area after the protests on Thursday night.
"Service delivery will be adversely affected in Refilwe, Cullinan, following an evening of unrest and mayhem which resulted in the destruction of a municipal building, torching and damaging of municipal vehicles," he said.
"Trouble in Region 5 had been brewing for some time when the region in conjunction with the 'Re Aga Tshwane' team embarked on a process of 'formalising' informal settlements by removing the residents of Refilwe extension 5, 3 and 2 and [resettling] them in Refilwe Manor extensions 7 and 10."
Bokaba said some Refilwe residents had illegally occupied the vacant land parcels in Refilwe extension 5 and the land invasion unit of the Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) subsequently issued notices to the illegal occupiers to vacate the land.
When the request to vacate the land was not heeded, the TMPD enlisted the services of a private company to demolish 397 illegal structures on the invaded land on Thursday.
"Incensed by the action, the illegal occupiers took to the streets yesterday and forcefully broke into a municipal housing building, causing damage to the structure," said Bokaba.
"We have not yet quantified the extent of the damage. The angry protesters also torched six municipal vehicles and damaged four others, including a TMPD bus."
He condemned the actions of the protesters and questioned why people would destroy structures which served them.
"The protesters' action would inevitably lead to the disruption of basic services. The city is baffled as to why protesters would vent their anger at the instruments of service delivery, instead of protesting peacefully," he said.
"We call upon the residents to use existing channels to air their grievances and not resort to acts of criminality and destruction of property."