Hermanus protests: 'We have been waiting for houses for 20 years'

Red Ants move to stop a land occupation in Overstrand (Facebook)
Red Ants move to stop a land occupation in Overstrand (Facebook)

There are rows of newly-built houses, with windows smashed in and doors ripped out in Swartdam Road, Zwelihle.

Behind a group of foot soldiers, holding the rubble-strewn frontline of Hermanus, smoke billows from the still-smouldering waste centre in Mbeki Road – a signal to all entering the town that the residents of Zwelihle are not happy.

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"We have been renting here for 20 years, waiting for a house," said one woman angrily. "I was on a waiting list. I was next," a woman says, pointing at the small units over the road.

"Now somebody else gets the house."

Another man shouts: "There is a man who is selling their house. It is corruption.

"We have been waiting a long time, living in backyards."

Clashes with police, Red Ants

To gain attention, because they felt nobody was listening, they started setting up shacks on vacant land on Thursday last week.

They marched to the council and demanded that they be supplied with water and lights.

Instead, the Red Ants and police moved them off the ground they were occupying.

ALSO READ: Community leaders, police meet in Hermanus

After that, a municipal office and satellite police station were burnt down and concrete blocks, wire and burning tyres were set up to limit access to the roads.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a security official says some spaza shops were looted on Monday night.

He says he was injured in clashes with the residents, before limping off.

Separate groups protesting

Meanwhile, a worker at an abalone farm waits at a distance, wondering whether it is safe to cross the frontline to get to work.

"They burnt a car there at the beach club," he says.

ALSO READ: Attempted 'land grab' in Hermanus thwarted, says municipal manager

Western Cape Housing MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela is expected to address the community later on Tuesday at a meeting in the town.

However, according to another annoyed resident, there are separate groups protesting to highlight other issues.

"Come and look at the toilets we have to use, the way we have to live," he said.

This is a developing story.

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