Angry residents who torched state property in retaliation at being evicted from invaded land are just making a bad situation worse, the City of Tshwane has cautioned.
It advised that service delivery would be adversely affected in Refilwe, Cullinan, after unrest in the area on Thursday night resulted in the destruction of a municipal building and the torching and damaging of municipal vehicles.
According to the city, discontent in the settlement spilled over when the city embarked on a process of “formalising” informal settlements by removing the residents of Refilwe extension 5, 3 and 2, and resettling them in Refilwe Manor extensions 7 and 10.
It held that some Refilwe residents had illegally occupied the vacant land parcels in 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, the TMPD enlisted the services of a private company to demolish 397 illegal structures on the invaded land on Thursday.
“Incensed by the action, the illegal occupiers took to the streets yesterday and forcefully broke into a municipal housing building, causing damage to the structure,” said the city. “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.”
It noted that it would now be unable respond to service interruptions as a result of the torching of its vehicles.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate, meanwhile, noted the incident with disappointment.
“We strongly condemn the actions of those who torched police vehicles last night in Refilwe, as well as other municipal properties.
“The same vehicles and facilities destroyed are meant to provide government service to the community,” it said.