National 12.8.2016 12:55 pm

Refilwe ‘land invaders’ disrupt service delivery

Tyres burn as residents during a protest.  Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Tyres burn as residents during a protest. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

The protesters took to the streets in the early hours of the evening, torching a municipal building and five municipal vehicles.

Provision of basic services will be adversely affected in the Cullinan township of Refilwe, east of Tshwane, following an evening of unrest and mayhem which resulted in the destruction of a municipal building, torching and damaging of several municipal vehicles, the Tshwane municipality said on Friday.

“Trouble in Region 5 had been brewing for some time when the region in conjunction with the (city’s) ‘Re Aga Tshwane’ team embarked on a process of ‘formalising’ informal settlements by removing the residents of Refilwe extension 5, 3 and 2 and resettle them in Refilwe Manor extensions 7 and 10,” spokesperson Selby Bokaba said in a statement.

“Some Refilwe residents had illegally occupied the vacant land parcels in Refilwe extension 5 and subsequently the land invasion unit of the Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) issued notices to the illegal occupiers to vacate the land.”

When the request to vacate the land was not heeded, Bokaba said on Thursday the TMPD enlisted the services of a private company to demolish 397 illegal structures on the invaded land.

“Incensed by the action, the illegal occupiers took to the streets yesterday (Thursday) and forcefully broke into a municipal housing building, causing damage to the structure. We have not yet quantified the extent of the damage. The angry protesters also torched six municipal vehicles and damaged four others, including a TMPD bus,” said Bokaba.

“The City of Tshwane condemns the barbaric behaviour of the protesters who destroyed municipal assets. The protesters’ action would inevitably lead to the disruption of basic services.”

Bokaba said the municipal authorities were “baffled as to why would protesters vent their anger at the instruments of service delivery” instead of protesting peacefully.

“We call upon the residents to use existing channels to air their grievances and not resort to acts of criminality and destruction of property,” he said.

“The unfortunate and inevitable consequence of this action is that vehicles that were damaged would not be able to go out to respond to service interruptions.”

On Thursday night, a City of Tshwane municipal office and five municipality vehicles were torched, while five other municipality vehicles were damaged.

The house of a Tshwane Metro Police officer, residing in the township, was broken into and damaged by a mob of angry protesters.

The protesters took to the streets in the early hours of the evening, barricading the roads leading into the township with burning tyres, rocks and tree stumps. They later burnt the municipal offices and cars.

South African Police Services (SAPS) public order policing and the Tshwane Metro Police diffused the situation by dispersing the crowd of angry protesters into the nearby veld.

On Friday morning, Cullinan SAPS spokesperson Constable Conny Moganedi said calm had been restored to the volatile area.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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