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Protester is found guilty

Luwandiso Fungwana, 30, was convicted in the Caledon Magistrate’s Court of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, public violence and malicious damage to property on 27 September.

He was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for the crimes.

“Fungwana was arrested by members of the Public Order Policing (Pop) during a public protest carried out on the N2 highway on 7 June 2018,” said Lt Col Philani Nkwalase, spokesperson for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (“Hawks”).

He said community members of the informal settlement at New France, Bot River, barricaded the N2 highway with rocks to show their unhappiness about government housing assistance.

“Two vehicles of the first crime responders, the Caledon Traffic Department and Caledon Vispol were parked nearby whilst members were patrolling and monitoring the situation, awaiting the arrival of the Pop team from Paarl.”

The spokesman said a group formed next to the parked police and traffic vehicles, where they overturned both vehicles and set them alight.

“The members of Pop chased the group into the nearby mountain,” he said. “Fungwana, who also assaulted Vispol members by throwing stones at them, was identified as one of the people who overturned one of the police vehicles before setting it alight.”

Nkwalase explained the matter was referred to the Hawks’ Crimes Against the State investigating team (Cats) for further investigation following his arrest.

“Fungwana was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to five years’ direct imprisonment on 27 September. Furthermore, he was declared unfit to possess a firearm.”

Brigadier Donovan Heilbron, Overberg Police Cluster Commander, has welcomed the sentence, stating that it sends out a clear message that perpetrators of public violence will be dealt with decisively.

“People have the right to protest but should do so peacefully,” he warned.

Heilbron added a “dedicated detective capacity” has been established to deal specifically with cases of public violence in the Overberg.

He added a stern warning to perpetrators who think they have escaped the long arm of the law that “a number of public violence cases that were struck from the court role have been placed back on the role.”

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