Cele calls on IPID to investigate Zwelihle claims of police harassment

Police Minister Bheki Cele has asked the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to investigate allegations of police brutality in Zwelihle, Hermanus.

Cele was speaking to residents on Tuesday following violent protests in the area.

He was responding to several grievances aired by a handful of residents who alleged that police barged into their homes and beat them.

He also said that the heavy police presence in the area would be withdrawn.

"I'm so keen to take the police away and send them where there is serious criminality," Cele said.

Community leaders went on to present Cele with a memorandum that listed their demands.

Mixed response from residents

One of their demands included the release of community leaders Gcobani Ndzongana and Theron Mqhu who were arrested on charges ranging from incitement to attempted murder.

Cele made it clear that while he was signing the document, it was only to acknowledge receipt and not because he agreed to the demands.

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"I'm not going to be minister of police and defeat the ends of justice," he said.

"Just imagine the minister of police leading the campaign to release people who were arrested."

He said those who had been arrested were now "with the justice system".

There was a mixed response among residents, with some happy with his signing of the memorandum and others unhappy that he would not release Ndzongana and Mqhu.

Land for backyarders

This was Cele's second community meeting after his initial meeting with residents on Friday descended into chaos.

Protests flared up in March over land for backyarders after a group started pegging out plots on municipal land. There were also complaints about alleged irregularities in government housing processes and the unequal expenditure of services between black and white communities.

The protests subsided after some residents organised themselves into the Zwelihle Renewal Committee to negotiate with the municipality and the Department of Human Settlements on behalf of the community for land for backyarders and others who have been battling to find affordable places to live.

Unrest subsided as the negotiations revealed that a private plot called Schulphoek would be bought back from developers, and other municipal stands would be made available.

News24 understands from a Zwelihle Renewal Committee member that protests flared up yet again two weeks ago when a fence on the Sandbaai side of Zwelihle was removed, allegedly by some Zwelihle residents who felt they were blocked off from the rest of Hermanus.

Later in the day, Cele's spokesperson Reneilwe Serero told News24 that the minister had paid Mqhu a brief visit at the police station and that Mqhu had since been moved to Caledon Prison.

Cele also planned on meeting with the councillors and the business chamber within the next two weeks, Serero said.