Capetonians woke up to complete chaos on Thursday morning as traffic was congested on major parts of the N2 due to the Khayelitsha shutdown.
Tyres and rubble were set alight, blocking roads in and around the area which resulted in Khayelitsha being declared a no-go zone for public transport.
“We’ve received reports of violent protesting in and around the Khayelitsha area, with most access routes to and from Khayelitsha obstructed. Baden Powell drive is closed in both directions between Swartklip Road and Oscar Mpetha,” said the spokesperson for Cape Town Traffic Services, Maxine Bezuidenhout.
Bezuidenhout added that in Somerset West, the N2 remains closed in both directions between Somerset Main Road and Broadlands Road due to a separate protest by residents over land invasions.
By 8.15am, Baden Powell Drive and the Spine Road entrance to Khayelitsha had been reopened.
Operators such as MyCiTi and Golden Arrow services were forced to suspend operations in the area.
“Golden Arrow apologises for any inconvenience caused this morning. Unfortunately, we had to suspend our services for safety reasons. We are now operating on the outskirts of Khayelitsha at the N2 Mew Way, Spine Road, Japhta K Masemola and Baden Powell. We will keep commuters updated throughout the day” said Golden Arrow Spokesperson Bronwen Dyke-Beyer.
In a statement the MyCiTi bus service said the N2 Express service has been suspended in Khayelitsha until further notice.
“The D01 and D02 routes have not been operating this morning, 11 April 2019. This is in the interest of the safety of the MyCiTi commuters, MyCiTi personnel, and City assets, the statement read.
The City is monitoring the situation and will resume the service in Khayelitsha once it is deemed safe to do so.
Many children have also been affected by the unrest as dozens of schools were forced to close. Western Cape Education Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the safety of teachers and learners are their priority at this stage.
“A total of twenty-one schools had to be closed. These schools are in areas such as Lwandle, Nomzamo and Khayelitsha. Eight other schools are being monitored at this stage to ensure the safety of teachers and learners. We are in close communication with all schools at this stage to make sure that if anything unfolds, we can take the necessary action,” she stated.
Western Cape MEC for Community Safety Alan Winde has since called for the swift arrest of the instigators of the violent protest action.
“This action has affected many innocent people: school children, those in need of medical assistance and employees. The names and contact details of the organisers of this action have been sent to me by the community. I have passed these details on to Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Jula, and call on him to put every effort into their swift arrest,” he stressed.
Winde said he had little doubt that their motives were political – with less than a month to go until the election.
He said violent and narrow-minded political parties are trying every desperate trick in the book to disrupt communities.
“What they are doing, however, is hurting the very people they are purporting to serve. These tactics, which have been taken too far, have never worked. These thugs belong behind bars, not on our ballot papers,” he stated.
Meanwhile residents are fearful following a message doing the rounds on social media claiming the CBD will be shutdown at 3pm today.
Bezuidenhout said the City is aware of this message and urged residents to stop causing unnecessary panic.
“The City is aware of a voice note making the rounds on WhatsApp alluding to a shutdown of the Cape Town CBD this afternoon. We can confirm that this message is a hoax and holds no substance,” she stressed.
The South African Police Services have not been able to provide any comment.