15 Hermanus unrest accused released from custody

All but three of the 18 people who appeared in the Hermanus Magistrate's Court for charges relating to the latest wave of unrest in the town, were released on house arrest on Monday.

Those implicated in an attack on a police officer will stay behind bars for now.

Magistrate Jeremy Maarman released one person on a warning and granted the other 14 bail of R500.

They appeared in two groups - initially four accused and later another 11 - on charges of public violence after their arrests earlier in July when violence flared up again in the suburb, following the arrest of community leader Gcobani Ndzongana.

Ndzongana had allegedly led the dismantling of a fence perceived to be separating Zwelihle from the rest of Hermanus.

Their bail conditions were that they may only leave home to go to work or to look for work and that they remain at the address provided to the court between the hours of 20:00 and 06:00 every day. They are also allowed to participate in church and sporting activities.

After the cases of the 15 were heard and they filed out to pay bail collected through a community fundraising drive, the remaining three, which included Zwelihle Renewal Committee member Theron Mqhu, appeared.

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They face charges related to an axe attack on a policeman, who was struck on the head and seriously injured, as well as the alleged theft of three firearms from his vehicle.

The charges include attempted murder and robbery with aggravated circumstances.

Two of the firearms were recovered during a police Tactical Response Team swoop and Mqhu was among those arrested.

None have been asked to plead because the case is still in its early stages.

When Police Minister Bheki Cele visited the area on July 20, some activists told him that it was the committee's members who had traced the stolen weapons and had called the police to fetch them.

Mqhu and the two others are in custody until their bail application. Mqhu also faces a charge of incitement to cause public violence.

Ndzongana was denied bail on Friday when his case of alleged malicious damage to property and incitement to violence was held in the Strand Magistrate's Court.

READ: Zwelihle Renewal leader's bail application dismissed

Protests flared up in March over land for backyarders after a group started pegging out plots on municipal land and complained about alleged corruption regarding the housing waiting list.

The Zwelihle Renewal Committee has been negotiating with the Overstrand Municipality and the Department of Human Settlements over the transfer of land called Schulphoek for people in Zwelihle who need somewhere to live.

This process is still under way.