/ 10 September 2007

Cape Town hit by violent protest

The situation at the scene of a housing protest at the Joe Slovo informal settlement in Langa, which earlier shut the N2 highway between Cape Town and the airport, is under control, said Captain Elliot Sinyangana of the Cape Town police on Monday.

”Situation is calm at present, but we are monitoring the situation. The roads are clear and people can use the N2.”

Sinyangana said: ”Groups of people became uncontrollable earlier this morning and police were forced to use force. One stun grenade was used and rubber bullets.”

Cape Town traffic services officer Searle Johannes said residents of the informal settlement set up barricades of burning tyres and logs before dawn.

Police closed off both the ingoing and outgoing lanes of the highway alongside the settlement just after 4am, and reopened them at about 7.30am.

However they were closed again when the protesters regrouped, and shortly before 10am, the eastbound lane was still shut, Johannes said.

Johannes said the protesters set a Blue Ribbon bakery delivery truck on fire after emptying it of its bread.

The protesters were also throwing stones, and several metro police and traffic vehicles, and South African Police Service vehicles, were damaged.

The protesters had also damaged a number of homes under construction on the N2 Gateway housing project.

The protesters are objecting to their planned relocation from the area to temporary houses at Delft to make way for the Gateway project, which is alongside Joe Slovo.


”The crowd is uncontrollable. The police shot at us. About 20 people have been hospitalised,” said Luthando Zulu, a community activist

Thousands of South Africans from mostly black townships and informal settlements have taken to the streets in recent months to voice anger over the lack of electricity, water and sewage and other services in poor neighbourhoods.

Police admitted they had fired at the crowd but did not confirm reports of injuries.

”There were shots fired by police, not live ammunition, but rubber bullets,” Kevin Maxwell, a municipal police spokesperson, said. – Reuters, Sapa