N2 in Plettenberg Bay remains closed after volatile night of protests

2019-07-04 11:23
The N2 in Plettenberg Bay remains closed following overnight protests. (Supplied)

The N2 in Plettenberg Bay remains closed following overnight protests. (Supplied)

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The N2 in Plettenberg Bay remained closed on Thursday morning following a volatile night of protests, Western Cape traffic chief Kenny Africa said.

The highway was closed between the Shell Ultra City and Kwanokuthula. A dirt road, from the Knysna side of the N2 to Wittedrift, was also closed.

The Bitou municipality said in a notice that police would facilitate a meeting in council chambers between political office bearers, Mayor Peter Lobese, the executive management team and seven protest leaders from Qolweni and New Horizons on Wednesday afternoon.

It is understood that an agreement was not reached and reports were later received of vandalism and looting in the industrial area.

The latest protests stem from grievances that were raised last month.

On June 18, Qolweni residents handed over a petition which focused on housing and poor service delivery.

Lack of progress

Their grievances included high unemployment rates, the slow pace of housing projects and a lack of progress in sport development in their community.

The municipality said Lobese responded in writing and in person at a community meeting on June 25.

Residents were apparently not satisfied and issued a one-week deadline. That expired on Tuesday and protests began on Tuesday night.

The municipality said a new demand was received on Wednesday morning for the resignation of Ward 3 councillor, Xola Matyila.

"Bitou is not aware of any reason in law or a transgression of the code of conduct for councillors that necessitates the removal of Mr Matyila as councillor. Therefore, the demand is something for the ANC, the political party which the councillor represents, to consider and pronounce on the matter," the municipality said.

There was sporadic stone throwing and fires on the road during the protests.

Sergeant Chris Spies said on Wednesday that two people, aged 21 and 24, were arrested on charges of public violence near the N2 turnoff to Piesang Valley.

He said a group had blocked the highway on Tuesday night, preventing people from entering or leaving the area.

"The protesters also pelted police members with stones, damaged vehicles and endangered other road users. A total of seven vehicles were damaged during the protest action. It includes a municipal vehicle as well as a patrol vehicle of the South African Police Service," Spies said.

He added that police respected the rights of people to engage in peaceful protest but would not tolerate lawlessness.

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