Four arrested after Bo-Kaap protesters block crane from entering area

2018-11-20 16:17
Bo-Kaap residents protest against high-rise buildings (Christina Pitt, News24)

Bo-Kaap residents protest against high-rise buildings (Christina Pitt, News24)

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2018-11-02 11:47

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Three men and one woman have been arrested as a group of protesting Bo-Kaap residents, many of them elderly, attempted to block a developer's crane from entering the area and later clashed with police.

Police used stun grenades earlier on Tuesday in an attempt to disperse protesters who took to the streets to highlight ongoing gentrification in the historic neighbourhood.

A court interdict was granted in July preventing community members from doing anything perceived to be damaging to the development.

"So far four suspects... aged between 22 and 43-years-old were arrested for public violence. Once they are charged they will be appearing in the Cape Town Magistrates’ court," Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said on Tuesday.

In the afternoon, public order police and many of the protesters clashed following the crane's on-and-off attempts to gain access to the area. The crane belonged to Blok developers.

Videos on social media show police clashing with community members before two flash bangs go off.

Earlier on Tuesday, the protesters blocked Buitengracht Street multiple times when the crane, accompanied by guards from security company PPA, arrived.

Some protesters laid down in front of the crane, destined for a construction site on Lion Street. 

"I was removed from District Six by the government and I will not be moved by the developers in Bo-Kaap," elderly resident Fouzia Ahmed said.

"Remember there is an interdict against the community. The judge ruled that the crane has the right to come in. We are protesting silently because we do not want this crane to come in. They have not given us the right to say what we want to say. It is important that we show the developers that we don't want high-rise buildings in our community."

Abdia De Costa, 92, said she felt it was her duty to protect her community.

Court interdict

"I am a senior in this area and I am very sentimental about this area, so if any change – or if anything should happen – I would be very sad.

"If there is going to be any change, our people will disappear and new people will come in. Our community is a strong one and very loyal."

During their demonstration, protesters took issue with the PPS security guards armed with airsoft guns.

"The security company accompanied them, but this security company is only meant to secure the Blok premises," De Costa told News24.

"They came here in the streets to intimidate our elders and all the people here are concerned residents," he charged.

'They are here illegally'

Resident and member of Bo-Kaap Collective Shafwaan Loubscher explained that as residents saw it, the developers were in their neighbourhood illegally.

He claimed there was not enough consultation between the developers and the community. Some community members were aware of the development, but not all of them.

"We approached them for traffic plans, safety plans, permits to deliver – they couldn't produce any of it. Once again, they are here 'illegally' – trespassing in our narrow roads and just doing as they please."

A Blok project manager was on the scene recording footage of the protest.

He referred News24 to Blok for comment but confirmed that there was an interdict against the community and that he was merely collecting evidence of the events taking place.

The crane then left the scene and traffic on Buitengracht Street resumed.

When News24 contacted Blok, it was referred to the company's legal representatives at law firm Norton Rose Fulbright.

Efforts to contact Blok's lawyers at Norton Rose Fulbright were also unsuccessful.

Bo-Kaap residents protest against high-rise buildi

Bo-Kaap residents protest against high-rise buildings (Christina Pitt, News24)

Bo-Kaap residents protest against high-rise buildi

Bo-Kaap residents protest against high-rise buildings (Christina Pitt, News24)

Bo-Kaap residents protest against high-rise buildi

Bo-Kaap residents protest against high-rise buildings (Christina Pitt, News24)

Read more on:    cape town  |  protests
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