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Residents fight back

Taxi and business owners of Zwelihle stood together on Tuesday to quell threats of a shutdown and clear the streets of burning tyres and other obstructions.

The group of men say they did this because experience has taught them that law enforcement agencies could not put a stop to violent protests that rocked the area throughout 2018.

“Because of the protests people lost their jobs, others lost their businesses and our children failed because they could not attend school. Our mothers, fathers and our children are suffering. We decided enough is enough,” said one of the members.

Their aim, they say, is to provide a platform for the residents of Zwelihle to air their grievances and to protect the community’s rights to attend work without fear of intimidation.

“If people represent us, they must do so responsibly, we can’t be controlled by politicians who do it for political and personal gain,” the association stated.The business owners and members of the Zwelihle Taxi Association met with Overberg District Municipality Deputy Mayor Archie Klaas, Overstrand Executive Deputy Mayor Elnora Gillion, Overberg Police Cluster Commander Brigadier Donovan Heilbron, Overstrand Municipality’s Director of Protection Services Neville Michaels and other officials on Tuesday to highlight problems and discuss a strategy to maintain peace in the area.

The various stakeholders at the meeting agreed to meet on a regular basis to have discussions.

On Tuesday evening hundreds of Zwelihle residents attended a meeting at the Zwelihle stadium to get feedback about the meeting.

The majority of attendants loudly cheered on the business owners and agreed that they support them in putting a stop to the protest action and shutdown. The attempted shutdown on Tuesday was sparked by the arrest of two men in connection with the public violence that broke out on Thursday 29 August during a joint operation to remove illegal electrical connections in Zwelihle.

Captain Fadila September, spokesperson for the Hermanus Police, confirmed that two men, both 38-years-old, were arrested on charges of public violence and conspiracy to commit a crime. The men appeared in the Hermanus Magistrate’s Court on Monday. The case was postponed to Monday 9 September. The suspects remain in custody.Overstrand Municipality said Thursday’s operation was undertaken as a result of on-going problems with illegal connections in the area.

Angry people stoned officials removing illegal connections. Two small substations and one electrical kiosk were set alight during the chaos, leaving certain areas without electricity. Power supply to some suburbs was restored early on Friday but residents of Zwelihle, where the two substations were destroyed, is still without electricity. The cost of the damage is estimated at R1,5 million.

“There are still challenges such as illegal reconnections. The operations to disconnect illegal connections will continue,” a spokesperson for the municipality stated.

Deputy mayor Elnora Gillion indicated during the meeting with the Taxi Association that it would take up to two weeks to replace the damaged transformers. The damage to the transformers, she said, is estimated at R750 000.

The municipality has asked residents to continue reporting illegal connections to the municipality’s 24-hour control centre (028 313 8111/8000) or law enforcement during office hours at (028 313 8980 or the nearest police station.

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