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Threats to break lockdown

HERMANUS – Tear gas and rubber bullets were fired on Friday night during violent clashes between the police and residents of Marikana informal settlement.

The next day a post on Zwelihle Renewal’s Facebook page stated that residents of Marikana were joined by those of Dubai informal settlement in a decision to end the lockdown, claiming this was done in self-defence against alleged police brutality. Land Party leader Gcobani Ndzongana says residents of Marikana decided to fight back against the heavy-handed tactics of police during lockdown. “People living in these small structures are forced to come out of their homes for air when the police fire tear gas,” Ndzongana stated. “When they do this the police fire rubber bullets at them. You can’t stay in your home when you are under attack. It is not the leadership who decided this, it was the people.”

Residents of Zwelihle Old Township, situated next to Dubai, have rubbished claims of police brutality, saying: “The police and Law Enforcement use tear gas and rubber bullets when they are stoned by the people of Dubai and Marikana while officials are busy removing the illegal electricity connections.”

One woman who asked not to be named added: “The whole of Zwelihle was without electricity because the transformers were damaged due to overloading as result of the illegal connections. Public Order Policing Unit, the police and Law Enforcement came in to disconnect the illegal connections and that is when the people of Marikana attacked the police. Now they want to lie by saying the police attacked them. Meanwhile the innocent residents of Zwelihle have to suffer as result of those people. Not all the people of Zwelihle support them.”

Ndzongana, however, claims the alleged attacks on the community during lockdown are an attempt to exact vengeance for the riots that rocked Hermanus in 2018.

“The police and municipality are using lockdown as an opportunity to settle scores for what occurred during the riots, when they were defeated.”

He pointed out that the situation in Zwelihle remained tense.

“The people of Marikana and Dubai remain vigilant and are discussing strategies to deal with the police brutality.” Police spokesperson Colonel André Traut confirmed that a public violence case docket was registered following the incident in Chris Hani Street in Zwelihe on Friday 24 April at around 18:15. He added: “The circumstances are being investigated and no one has been arrested as yet. No injuries were reported during the incident. The situation in the area is being monitored by police.”

Traut did not respond to questions about a meeting that was reportedly scheduled to take place on Sunday afternoon but was later cancelled. All public gatherings and meetings are prohibited under lockdown regulations.

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