There was chaos in Khayelitsha on Wednesday with battles between police and residents occupying land, and shops being looted. Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in Khayelitsha have distanced themselves from the looting, but residents say it was led by people wearing EFF T-shirts and berets.
The looting followed the eviction of people who were occupying land in TR Informal Settlement. Residents called the area Nkandla Azania.
Occupiers said the City’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit (ALIU) and police destroyed at least 75 shacks built in the area. They said police started shooting rubber bullets, which angered them, and the looting followed.
As far as GroundUp could ascertain, occupiers threw stones while police fired back with rubber bullets. The police appeared to flee the scene and hid inside their van.
EFF member Khuliswa Nondala who led the occupation of land said their target was to set alight government cars and to close the N2 with burning tyres.
“We wanted to destroy things that belong to government.”
She said the looters came between the shacks and started looting Shoprite in Site C’s mall. “We tried to stop the looters but they were many and we could not control them,” she said. “Looting was not part of a plan. We wanted to destroy things that belong to government.” She said a few people were arrested in Shoprite Mall.
Nondala said they tried to defend some of the Somali shops in the area.
Somali shop owner Mohammed Agmad said about 300 looters came to his shop. “I was not aware of the protest. These people just came here and took my things. They took drinks, milk and bread,” he said. Agmad said he lost more than R3 000 worth of stock. “This is very bad. This is not the first time they looted my shop. Always when there’s a protest here, they target my shop,” he said.
Another EFF member Menzi Manyonga accused the Ses’Khona Peoples Rights Movement of hijacking their protest. “We are not part of the looting. Even now we are trying to stop [people] from taking the Somalian things,” he said.
But Ses’khona member Sibusiso Zonke denied the allegations. He said they didn’t hijack anything. “We were also approached by residents who asked for our assistance,” he said.
Occupiers also closed Lansdowne and Mew Way roads by burning tyres, while throwing stones at passing cars. They said they won’t rest until they receive their land. “We demand this land we are tired of living in small shacks and backyards. Private land or not we will get this land,” said occupier Manelisi Ngubenkomo. He said he lost all his material but he won’t rest until he builds a shack and lives in it.
This article first appeared on GroundUp.