Hout Bay residents locked in meeting with police after violent protest

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A burnt digger in Hangberg. (Aletta Harrison, News24)
A burnt digger in Hangberg. (Aletta Harrison, News24)

Cape Town- Police commanders and Hangberg community leaders were locked in a meeting at the Hout Bay station on Thursday afternoon to thrash out a way forward following protests in the area. Loud voices could be heard from the commander's office, where the closed meeting had been going on for about three hours.

Back in Hangberg, people sat next to the street and waited for word on what to do. Smoke billowed from a single burning tyre in the road. Curious children looked at the police nyala below from high on the hill.

SAPS and traffic vehicles parked at the entrance of the harbour to keep an eye. Residents had apparently been promised that police officials would meet with them on Wednesday. There had also been talk of a visit from the fisheries officials. No meeting transpired.

Residents had earlier on Thursday watched a video of a 14-year-old boy being shot by a rubber bullet. The clip was screened in the Hangberg community hall and many watched it for the first time.

READ:IPID to investigate shooting of teenage Hout Bay boy

They stormed out of their local community hall in anger after watching the clip.

Many shouted and shook their heads as they watched the clip being broadcast on a projector.

Some had initially protested on Monday about recommendations to reduce the total allowed catch for West Coast Rock Lobster. Others had joined in with their complaints about housing.

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On Thursday, salt was rubbed into their wounds when they became aware of alleged comments by a nearby landowner saying community leaders should be shot dead.

Although there was tension in the air, the community had not yet made a decision on what to do. A few hundred metres down the road, police officers waited with their vehicles.

A tyre was burnt in the middle of the road, next to Sentinel primary school, which sent over 1 000 pupils home after concerns about the safety.

In the meantime, the fisheries department has cautioned communities that no final decision had yet been made about the upcoming season.

GALLERY: Daring images of Hout Bay protest

Department spokesperson Carol Moses said a consultative process was underway.

The fishing season for lobster started on October 1 for the Northern Cape and November 1 for other areas.

The department said it had a duty to balance the needs of thousands of people fishing for food and income, with the goal of sustainable harvesting.

"The department recognises that fishers, and particularly small-scale fishing communities, have legitimate grievances and demands which the department is attempting to address together with the affected communities."

Moses urged for calm.

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