10 arrested during protest over evictions from Stellenbosch wine farm after occupation

Ten people were arrested for public violence during a protest over the eviction of a group of people who built shacks on a Stellenbosch wine farm without permission.

"It costs money to buy a shack. That's the only property they have," EFF PR councillor Xoliswa Jonas said at the scene on Tuesday.

She said the shack materials cost around R3 000 and many people had to take out a loan to buy the corrugated iron. They have also already lost their accommodation in Kayamandi, a suburb of Stellenbosch they had moved from.

"They had left their renting places, so people decided they were going to fight back."

The illegal occupation of Watergang, a portion of the Louiesenhof wine farm, began last week amid the municipality's ongoing negotiations with the owners for its purchase.

The owners of Louiesenhof Wines have had their farm occupied twice this year. According to its website, Louiesenhof Wines was founded in 1701.

A second interdict for the eviction of the people and the removal of the rows of shacks was issued in favour of the land owners in the Western Cape High Court on Saturday.

READ: Stellenbosch land owner gets eviction order after 'land invasion'

However, Jonas said the time period in which evictions were allowed had expired. The owners' attorney was not immediately available for comment.

She said that the owner should only have been allowed to evict people within 72 hours, but that had lapsed. Yet evictions were continuing.

Jonas added that six women and four men were arrested on Monday during a protest over the evictions, which led to looting and public violence.

Jonas said police detained the 10 people in Paarl instead of in Stellenbosch and people ran around to try to get together money to pay their bail and to locate them.

READ MORE: We are not behind Stellenbosch wine farm occupation - EFF councillor

She alleged that a woman who was struck by a rubber bullet was denied medical treatment while in the holding cells.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut confirmed that 10 people were arrested and would be charged with public violence. They would appear in court, either later on Tuesday or on Wednesday.

He said the police were entitled to detain people arrested wherever they saw fit, based on operational decisions.

Traut added that anybody who was denied medical treatment should lay a complaint with the police and with the police's Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

The police were only monitoring and only the company commissioned to carry out the evictions was allowed to do so, he explained.

Jonas said the EFF had been trying to assist the community regarding their rights and added that supporters of a wide range of political parties were present to discuss using the empty land at community meetings, including DA and ANC supporters.

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