Zwelihle residents struggle to access emergency services during Hermanus protests

2018-07-17 11:35
Police on the scene to restore calm to Zwelihle, Hermanus. (Christina Pitt/News24)

Police on the scene to restore calm to Zwelihle, Hermanus. (Christina Pitt/News24)

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Some Zwelihle residents claim they have not been able to access police and medical assistance since violent protests flared up in the Hermanus community on Tuesday last week. 

Thousands of residents took to the streets to demand the release of Zwelihle Renewal leader Gcobani Ndzongana, who was arrested for incitement and destruction of property. 

Read: Hermanus unrest: Residents armed with rocks and corrugated iron take on police

"It is difficult for us to go into the community, because protesters have dug trenches in the roads. Zwelihle has become completely inaccessible," police spokesperson Colonel Luthando Nosilela said. 

Some residents who had been injured were unable to seek medical treatment, as the Hermanus Community Day Centre was closed due to the protests.

Patients were referred to the nearest clinic for medical treatment and to Hermanus Hospital for emergencies, however, all exits in the community had been blocked.

Siyathemba Qotyana is still traumatised after he was shot with rubber bullets during the protests on Friday.

"I got shot on the side of my face. I was scared for my life due to what’s going on," Qotyana said. 

"We don’t know when it’s going to stop. I’m scared to go outside or even buy something to eat. We don’t know what we’re going to eat tonight. You don’t know if your house is going to burn down. I wish I could have gone to the hospital, especially for the wound on my face, but I can't drive my car here." 

Other residents said they couldn't see the benefits of the protest. 

"We have been protesting for five days now and we don’t see the benefit. We’re not going to get what we want," Songezo Mavathi told News24.

"The protest is resulting in injury to our people. We are not getting what we want from the protest and our bosses are losing money too. Our employers need to convince our government to respond to our grievances."

Meanwhile, community leaders have confirmed that the shutdown will continue. They say they have made plans to meet with police and government officials for negotiations. 

Also read: Mother mourns 2-week-old baby girl who died during Zwelihle protests

"We are going to continue with the shutdown until we get answers. We are going to the meetings and hopefully there will be progress," Zwelihle Renewal member Sicelo Gxamesi said. 

His colleague Simphiwe Silwe said that the community was dedicated to the cause. 

"We are the leaders of this community and they respect us. Whatever happens to us is their concern. If one person feels the pain, the whole community feels the pain," Silwe said. 

"The community is really angry about the incident. We had a problem earlier about the land. We will keep doing the same thing until they release him [Ndzongana]."

Nosilela confirmed to News24 on Monday that Ndzongana would appear in court on Thursday on charges of incitement and public destruction of property.

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