South Africa 20.7.2018 03:50 pm

Cele forced to flee Hermanus meeting

Police minister Bheki Cele says Operation Thunder has been a success in the Western Cape. Picture: Bongani Shilulbane/ANA

Police minister Bheki Cele says Operation Thunder has been a success in the Western Cape. Picture: Bongani Shilulbane/ANA

The police minister’s attempts to quell violent protests in Hermanus township Zwelihle appear to have been unsuccessful.

Minister of Police Bheki Cele was forced to flee Hermanus this afternoon.

News24 reported on Twitter that Cele’s imbizo in Zwelihle “was abandoned and he and other dignitaries left in a long fast convoy over rubble in Swartdam road, with armed cops hanging out of doors”.

Cele had called an emergency meeting, which took place behind a sports stadium in the Western Cape township.

Earlier, it was reported that Cele had to be protected from angry residents by armed police.

Protests in the area have been ongoing this week, with disgruntled members of organisation Zwelihle Renewal Committee demanding the release from prison of their leader Gcobani Ndzongana, who was charged with incitement and malicious damage to property alongside 49 other protesters.

A police officer is reported to be in critical condition at Overstrand hospital after allegedly being attacked with an axe by unnamed protestors on Thursday night. The officer is also said to have had his weapons stolen during the attack.

The Zwelihle Renewal Committee was formed to deal with housing problems in the area. After negotiations, the government agreed to re-examine housing lists and provide plots for residents of the township to build homes. However, there has been a breakdown in negotiations, leading to violent protests that have intensified following Ndzongana’s arrests.

About 5 000 pupils from Mount Pleasant, Zwelihle and Lukhanyo primary schools, as well as Qhayiya Secondary School, have been affected by school closures due to the protests.

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