Situation still tense in Vredenburg following arrests of 38 protesters

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Tensions are still running high in the Western Cape town of Vredenburg, following protests that saw 28 men and 10 women arrested on charges of public violence, police said on Wednesday.

Western Cape traffic chief Kenny Africa said that around 2 300 protesters had assembled in the street on Tuesday, following a showdown with Public Order Police the day before.

"The situation in Vredenburg is very tense and there is a high police visibility," he said.

Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said that residents of the informal settlement Ongegund were protesting about poor service delivery.

A police member was injured during the protest, but no arrest had been made yet. The local police station was also reportedly stoned.

"They started to throw stones at the Vredenburg police station and damaged vehicles," Van Wyk said.

The R45 road the Vredenburg main road were closed for much of Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, Africa said that all roads in the town were now open.

A case of public violence had been opened for investigation.

Provincial Minister of Community Safety Alan Winde on Wednesday strongly condemned the reported attack on the Vredenburg police station.

"It is completely unacceptable that protestors attack the police. All citizens have the right to protest, but it must be done within the ambit of the law to prevent harm to others. Unlawful attacks on the police are an attack on the whole community, and on the country’s Constitution."

Winde said they needed to identify alternative mechanisms to address grievances and steer violence.

"This goes both ways - dialogue between government and its citizens needs to be improved. A violent approach to raising issues has knock on effects for the whole community."

Winde applauded police for the swift arrests in a heavily pressured and under-resourced environment, and encouraged community members to report.

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