Bus crash blocks road used to divert motorists amid violent Plett protests

Bus crash blocks road used to divert motorists amid violent Plett protests

The scene of the bus that crashed early on Friday morning. Image: Twitter/@MrCow_man

Protests forced the N2 in Plettenberg Bay to close, and violence, theft, and vandalism have been ongoing since Tuesday.

On Friday morning, three people died and 43 were injured in a bus accident on Plettenberg Bay’s Airport Road – the same road used to redirect motorists amid the violent protests between Shell Ultra City and KwaNokuthula, reports Knysna-Plett Herald.

Municipal spokesperson Manfred van Rooyen confirmed that the incident occurred at around 3am just past the Harkerville Primary School.

He said 43 patients, with multiple injuries, had been transported to various hospitals and 23 passengers to the Plett Community Church.

“Three fatalities have been reported thus far. Apparently, the driver of the Eagleliner lost control in a bend due to wet road surface conditions following rain overnight,” Van Rooyen said.

“The Bitou fire department arrived on the scene first to render assistance and to direct traffic. Police forensic pathology, four ambulances and traffic officers have been assisting on the scene.”

The N2 remains closed as a result of the unrest. Motorists are still being redirected via Robberg/Airport road.

“The police will in all probability deploy more resources towards restoring law and order in Bitou. Other avenues towards resolution of the ongoing impasse will also be pursued, in the interest of safety and for the sake of the local economy.”

Safety of road users and pedestrians along the N2 remains a major issue. This according to a press release issued by Bitou Municipality on Thursday morning, Knysna-Plett Herald reported on Thursday.

ALSO READ: Plettenberg Bay a ‘war zone’, say residents

“All indications are that protests will continue today. SAPS indicated operations will be stepped up with extra resources to be deployed to manage the protests and crime with the view to open the N2 today [Thursday].

“In view of the ongoing impasse and the resulting safety risks to the staff, a directive has been issued that all offices will remain closed. In the early hours of this morning (Thursday, July 4), the office of the Youth & Sport Development Officer was looted, ransacked and set alight.”

“Bitou wants to put on record that we no longer view what has transpired these past two days as a protest for service delivery. The overwhelming public evidence is that this is rampant crime, accompanied by violence, looting, theft and the vandalism of public and private property. These actions are denounced in the strongest possible terms. A call is done for any witnesses to come to the fore to give affidavits to SAPS so that the criminals can be brought to account for their actions. Bitou will give all its support to the police.”

Several businesses reported damage to their buildings, as well as many incidents of theft.

“Regrettably we also have to inform the public that the meeting between Bitou Municipality and the leadership of the protest and unrest did not manage to resolve the impasse.

“Strangely; early during the proceedings requests was made the resignation of two more councillors; respectively Mr Dave Swart, ward 2 councillor (DA), and Mrs. Anne Windvogel, ward 4 councillor (DA). Unfortunately, as we indicated with the call of the resignation of the ward 3 councillor, Mr Matyila; the deployment or recall of any councillor is beyond the mandate, scope and control of Bitou municipality and is a matter for communities and voters to take up with the political parties that the councillors represent.

“Council under the leadership of the speaker are only able to act against a councillor; taking regard of due processes and the principles of natural justice (fair procedure, Audi Alterem etc,) if allegations [are] presented of serious breaches of the code of conduct for councillors.

“Even if a decision of Council has been taken to remove a councillor, it is the mandate of the provincial minister to make a final determination to expel a councillor.”

Police have so far arrested 59 suspects in connection with the recent violent protests.

In response to sporadic incidents, police spokesperson Sergeant Chris Spies said the police used minimum force by using stun grenades and rubber bullets in an effort to disperse the protesters.

Police arrested 31 suspects in and around the industrial area on Thursday. “This includes 23 suspects that were arrested on a business premises following a burglary earlier. These suspects are facing charges of housebreaking, but more charges could be added as the investigation unfolds,” Spies said.

The remainder of the suspects that were arrested are facing charges of public violence after they were positively linked to the continued unrest in the area.

“Two of the suspects, aged 21 and 24, that were arrested earlier this week on charges of public violence will appear in court on Friday 5 July 2019. The other suspects aged between 13 and 57 will appear in court next week. All suspects are still in custody.”

The N2 highway remains closed, but public order police members are still on the scene monitoring the situation. “They will remain on the ground until law and order is restored.”

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