Cape Town protests: 91 cases of unrest over four weeks, says City

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Protests in Cape Town.
Protests in Cape Town.
Murray Williams, News24
  • Over 90 incidents of public unrest have taken place in Cape Town between 11 July and 5 August.
  • During the same time period, 38 staff members were injured and 14 City vehicles were damaged.
  • The "dramatic spike in public unrest" has also impacted on service delivery, according to Mayco member JP Smith.

A "dramatic spike in public unrest" has impacted on service delivery in Cape Town, according to City of Cape Town Mayco member for Safety and Security JP Smith.

This as the City records increased incidents of protest action over the past four weeks due to various reasons, including land invasions.

Between 11 July and 5 August, there were 91 incidents of protest action recorded by the City's enforcement services. Comparatively, there were only 38 such incidents between April and June.

During this period, the Safety and Security Directorate recorded 38 injuries to staff members, damage to 14 directorate vehicles and at least six private vehicles, and 28 arrests for public violence.

"Much of the unrest has been linked to violent attempts to invade pockets of land in a number of areas around the city. The Safety and Security Directorate is counting the cost, but it is imperative that the public too be cognisant of how these incidents impact on them," said Smith.

ALSO READ | Cape Town protests: 45 people arrested on Monday

Not only does the City have to direct resources away from other priority areas to assist the police with public order policing, said Smith, but damage to City vehicles reduced the number available for visible policing and responding to emergencies.

"Where staff members are injured, it means time off work, which translates into fewer officers to fulfil our public safety mandate," Smith adds.

The "volatility" has impacted on other areas of service delivery, including preventing Disaster Risk Management Centre staff from assisting with humanitarian relief efforts, conducting Covid-19 outreach, conducting assessments of emergency incidents like informal settlement fires, and coordinating mitigation measures as part of the Winter Readiness Programme.

"There are many other examples of how services by other City departments have been impacted, and ultimately, communities at large are being hamstrung by the actions of a few.

"The City implores the criminal justice system to treat the charges brought against those who have been arrested seriously, and to send a strong message that the destruction and risks to public safety that have accompanied the unrest of recent weeks cannot be tolerated," said Smith.

The public can also share information that leads to the identification, arrest, and conviction of those responsible for the violence via anonymous tip-offs on 021 480 7700 from a cellphone or 107 from a landline.

This week, News24 reported on more unrest in Philippi and Hout Bay as residents protested for electricity, jobs and land, as the economic shock of Covid-19 takes its toll.

A Golden Arrow bus and a small business were torched, and stones were thrown at the police, among other things.

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