Woman injured, 7 arrested in Atlantis protests

2018-10-18 18:11
(Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

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A woman was injured and at least seven men were arrested during a protest in Atlantis, north of Cape Town, on Thursday.

Police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said public order police and other authorities were on high alert over the service delivery protest in Atlantis, which is about 40km north of Cape Town.

"Police took action to disperse the crowd," said Rwexana. 

The woman who was injured was treated on the scene. Two of the people arrested were minors.

Police would monitor the protests on the Witsand side of Atlantis, which borders agricultural areas. Many of Witsand's residents live in zinc shacks or wooden houses.

Two councillors and a community leader said the protests centred on a demand that construction begin immediately on a community hall.

Call for officials' resignations

"The community said it needed a hall but the City [of Cape Town] didn't take it seriously," explained South African National Civic Organisation leader Thobile Maseti.

Maseti was speaking ahead of a meeting of a group of community representatives who planned to meet councillors over the issue.

The demonstrations started on Thursday morning near Witsand, a bustling suburb made up of mainly shacks and wooden houses on the outskirts of the remote town, which was supposed to have been an economic hub. 

A pamphlet doing the rounds called for, among other things, the resignation of a number of councillors and municipal managers, that locals get contract work instead of outsiders, and that housing shortages be addressed.

One of the councillors whose resignation was called for in the pamphlet headed "AtlantisShutdown" is the DA's Suzette Little.

"I'm very concerned about it," said Little of the protests and clashes with police.

"This is about a community hall approved by [the] City. Community leaders are insisting that it must be built today," said Little.

She said the community had been part of briefings and discussions about the hall which was approved for construction in June 2018.

There was a demand that it be built in two weeks, and then again, by the end of Thursday. Little said this was not possible.

"They are well aware of the process because we have been meeting with them regularly," Little said.

She said that she would not resign because nobody had reported any crime she had allegedly committed to the police.

In the meantime, she was concerned about the road blockages and damage to heritage site "The Lane" – a long gumtree-lined road that runs through Witsand.

"There are quite a number of trees that have been cut down and roads blocked," she said.

ANC councillor Fiona Abrahams confirmed that there was anger over the building of the hall.

She explained that the hall was intended to also house a clinic and a social services office.

Read more on:    cape town  |  service delivery  |  protests

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