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Violent protests in Hangberg

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A violent service delivery protest erupted in Hangberg overnight after the arrest of three residents. Three cars were reportedly torched, buildings were set alight and the Hout Bay market was also targeted. No injuries were reported.  While things remain calm at present, Hout Bay police are monitoring the situation.

“Cars were damaged as well as buildings. No one has been arrested on charges of public violence as yet,” said Western Cape police spokesperson Andre Traut.

According to sources in the community, Metro police swooped onto the Sentinel Mountain at around 2am to arrest three men on a high court order. They are accused of erecting illegal structures on the firebreak on the mountain.  Shortly afterwards, residents took to the streets to protest the men’s arrest. Roscoe Jacobs of the Hout Bay Civic Association said residents were outraged by the evictions in the area.

“This protest is taking place because of what has transpired over the last four years since the Hangberg violence. People are angry. The reality is that because of our struggle for land in Hangberg, this will continue to happen unless there is true a solution that is inclusive of the people,” he said.

On the 21 and 22nd September 2010, riots broke out in the small fishing community when law enforcement officials dismantled a number of informal structures on the firebreak on the Sentinel Mountain.  The Hangberg Peace and Mediation Forum (PMF) was formed as a result of a court order and an agreement was signed with other stakeholders that would see housing as well as other basic services being delivered to residents in the Hout Bay community.

However, Jacobs insists this document was not achieved with the full participation of the community.

“That is why we will continue to see the injustices here in Hangberg. People are arrested in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act when they should in fact be arrested in terms of the Prevention of Illegal Squatting Act,” said Jacobs.

“The City of Cape Town and Provincial Government has failed to provide houses for our people for the last few years. As a result, our community has taken it upon themselves to provide their own housing.”

Jacobs said there were council flats being constructed in the area, however there remained “uncertainty” around the development.

“Getting the City to respond to all these issues has been a challenge as we get diverted to the Peace and Mediation Forum. We want to work with government to ensure that these matters are addressed but we can only do that if they actually come to the party and engage us to develop a solution.”

The City of Cape Town was unavailable for comment. VOC

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