Peace agreement in Hangberg

Dan Plato and Roberto Quintas listen to the community's demands.

Late on Thursday night, Western Cape Safety MEC Dan Plato arrived in Hangberg in a bid to quell tensions.

In order to diffuse the situation, which saw running battles between police and community members protesting for housing and a redress of fishing allocations, he pledged to return at 10am this morning, Friday September 15, to listen to residents’ grievances.

The MEC made good on his word, first meeting community leaders at Sentinel Primary before addressing the broader community at the Hangberg Sports and Recreation Centre. He was accompanied by ward councillor Roberto Quintas.

While a small police presence remained at the bottom of the Atlantic Skipper Road, the provincial and local government representatives were unaccompanied by policing agencies.

A memorandum stating the community’s demands was discussed at length in a constructive exchange, and at the end of the day it was agreed that a tentative peace would be restored. This was dependent on the MEC’s commitment to meetings to be held from early next week, in which each of the community’s demands would be addressed.

It was also agreed that Hangberg schools would be reopened so children could write exams.

Furthermore, Mr Plato confirmed to the community that the national Minister of Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, would meet the community at 1pm on Sunday, September 17. This comes after departmental representatives failed to attend a meeting on Thursday, sparking a fresh wave of protest.

Among the community’s demands were that:

* New leadership be elected to the Hangberg Peace and Mediation Forum, and the existing Peace Accord dissolved;

* The mismanagement of fishing rights by DAFF be addressed, and corrupt officials within the department be brought to book;

* That police responsible for the shooting of 14-year-old boy on Tuesday be prosecuted and be brought to justice;

* That housing and land be provided for the community;

* Basic services be improved immediately;

* Roads and parking be improved immediately;

* Community members, particularly children, be provided counselling, as they still bore the scars of the 2010 riots when Metro police clashed violently with Metro police.

Audience members were granted opportunity to address the officials, and were emphatic in their demands that they not be paid lip service, but given timelines as to when their grievances would be addressed.

They were particularly outspoken on issues of police brutality, saying the police “had learnt nothing from the 2010 riots”.

A video of the shooting of 14-year-old Ona Dubula, who sustained injuries to his mouth and ribs, was then shown to Mr Plato.

The video was shot by Hangberg resident Peter Michaels, and has since gone viral.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate has opened a case of attempted murder against the officers, and Mr Plato assured the community he would engage with the directorate to ensure justice was carried out.

In order to move forward, the community needs to come up with a tactical approach. The longer we fight, the less people are going to listen to our grievances,” he told the audience.

“The beginning of this process is a new leadership structure. You need to take steps, and essentially act like a business entity putting a structure together. You are sitting on a goldmine here in Hout Bay, but you cannot get access to the goldmine if you continue to fight.”

Mr Plato said he would assist the community to structure their own companies.

With regards to the PMF, he said there was nothing stopping the community from forming its own structures. However, it was pointed out to him that a High Court order bound the Peace Accord.

Audience member Donovan van der Heyden said it was no good having a number of different representative bodies, but implored the MEC to understand that the community needed new leadership.

Community representative Lee Smith also urged Mr Plato to appreciate that the community was tired of waiting for answers, and said the fishing rights issue and housing concerns should be addressed concurrently.

It was then that he said meetings would be held with all relevant City departments from Monday onward.

A call had also been made to uplift education levels in Hangberg, to which Mr Plato said community leaders should bring the youth together and he would work on granting them access to colleges.

Taking the floor, Mr Quintas said he had spoken to provincial government about petitioning DAFF to relook at the fishing allocations.

He would also be making counselling a top priority, and to this end would be engaging with mayoral committee member for safety, security and social services, JP Smith. This he hoped would be rolled out next week.

Mr Quintas implored the community to allow the clinic, which has been closed for three days, to reopen, as people were desperately requiring treatment for tuberculosis and other ailments.
In addition, cleaning of streets would be given high priority.