Grabouw protests spiral out of control

2014-09-15 21:45

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Johannesburg - Protesters in and around Grabouw in the Western Cape started fires on the N2 on Monday evening, police said.

"They [the fires] are currently on the N2. There are a lot of people on the N2, police and other people. We are trying to clear the highway," Lieutenant Raldene Atson said.

The N2 was closed to traffic, with police directing motorists around the area via alternative routes.

However, protesters under the cover of darkness had begun throwing stones at cars on the alternative routes as well.

"On the alternative routes, people started throwing stones as well. Police are addressing situation and it doesn't help us that its now dark in the area," said Atson.

Informal housing near Gaffley Street, at Melrose Place in Grabouw, had been broken down by protesters.

Police moved into the area to restore order, with protesters throwing stones at them in response.

"Protesters, apart from throwing stones at motorists, also threw stones at police. Police there are being hindered by the darkness," Atson said.

Foreign nationals

"Protesters are using the darkness to evade police, as they keep switching positions."

It had been reported to police that a number of shops in Melrose Place and Xola Naledi owned by foreign nationals had been looted by protesters on Monday evening.

"We warned the people and shop owners [earlier and over the weekend] to be aware of what's happening," Atson said.

Its believed most of the shop owners removed their valuables following the warning by police.

Earlier, police fired rubber bullets and used tear gas to disperse more than 1 000 people protesting at the Grabouw municipal offices over service delivery. 

The rubber bullets were fired when protesters marching in Ou Kaapse Weg started throwing stones at police.

A section of the N2 passing the town had to be closed for several hours after cars were stoned.

Oil was poured on the highway and later rocks and burning tyres were used to block access to the town.

The N2 was closed at Sir Lowry's Pass, Gordon's Bay and close to Bot River.

The protesters gathered in Gaffley Street and marched to the municipal offices in Pineview to hand over a memorandum listing their grievances.

The public order policing unit was called in with Nyalas and water cannons to contain the crowd.

Theewaterskloof mayor Chris Punt arrived from Caledon to receive the memorandum.

After handing over the memorandum and being addressed by several community leaders, the crowd left the municipal offices. They started marching back to the townships and throwing stones.

The protest is the second in recent weeks. Residents were not satisfied with the response to a list of grievances handed over to deputy mayor Mlulami Tshaka and town manager Anton Liebenberg on August 20.

John Michels, leader of the Grabouw Civics Organisation, then warned that the N2 would be blocked every weekend until their demands were met.

Grievances included in the memorandum were lack of housing, poor and expensive electricity supply and bad road conditions.

Read more on:    cape town  |  xenophobia  |  service delivery  |  protests

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