Violent protests erupt in Hout Bay

Protesters move a bin into place near a fire at the Imizamo Yethu traffic circle.

A tense stand-off between protesters and law enforcement agencies continued on Victoria Road on Saturday afternoon after violent protests had erupted over housing in the temporary relation area on the Hout Bay Sports Complex earlier.

With large fires still burning at the traffic circle at the entrance to Imizamo Yethu, members of SAPS Public Order Policing fired stun grenades and teargas at the protesters whose numbers were estimated at more than 200.

However, protesters remained defiant and began erecting shacks – built from sheet metal and wood used for the sports field shacks – in Victoria Road, coming as close as 40 metres from the police nyala and other law enforcement vehicles.

Rubbish bins were set alight, and the MyCiTi bus stop smashed by protesters who earlier had marched to the Suikerbossie entrance to Hout Bay.
Rocks were thrown at police, both by those building the shacks and people residing on the sports field. Officers then took to the trees in Victoria Road to fire stun grenades at those on the sports field.

Shortly before noon, a small group of protesters walked towards riot police, daring them to shoot them.

By 1pm, clashes had abated as protesters awaited the arrival of a City housing official to address them.
According to disgruntled residents, the uprising is over “unacceptable” conditions at the temporary relocation area. In addition, they say that when Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille announced the temporary sites, they were told that they would be able to return to Imizamo Yethu within three months.

Since this had not occurred, they felt the need to take their grievances to the streets.

Protester Richard Mbalisi Matinga said the City had reneged on its promises.

“We are showing that we will not accept this,” he said.

One woman said the conditions on the sports field were appalling.
“When it rains, the water is high in the shacks, coming up to our knees. You can’t live like that,” she said.

According to ward councillor Roberto Quintas, the Victoria Road route to Camps Bay was later opened under heavy police and law enforcement observation. However, the Hout Bay Road entrance remained blocked where more shacks had been erected.

“While I support the right to peaceful protest, I condemn in the strongest possible terms the destruction of property. I am sympathetic to the grievances of the residents living at the sports complex, but the reports of verbal and physical intimidation and destruction of property is unacceptable,” he said.

In a statement released late afternoon, the ANC Youth League Dullah Omar region accused the City of Cape Town of failing to rebuild Hout Bay’s Imizamo Yethu Informal Settlement in a manner that “restores dignity”.

ANC Youth League Dullah Omar Region commends the courageous young and old of Imizamo Yethu for highlighting the failure of the DA-led City of Cape Town to rebuild the lives of Imizamo Yethu Fire victims,” the statement said.

“We condemn the mayor of Cape Town for failing to meet the residents of IY and further condemn DA Ward Councillor Roberto Quintas for failing to attend to the concerns of residents, citing his “safety” as the reason for not addressing the plight of IY residents. We believes that this protest is evident that the clean audit the City boasts about does equal services delivery to the poor working class of Cape Town.”

The organisation demanded that Mayor Patricia De Lille and Mr Quintas meet with the people of Imizamo Yethu before then end of today (Saturday).

“We further demand that an investigation is launched by the City to determine how much money was donated to fire victims, who received this funds and what is was used for. Super-blocking must be fast tracked as a matter of urgency.”


* This article has been updated.