Hermanus residents in standoff with police
At least 1 000 residents of Zwelihle, Hermanus stood off with police officers late on Wednesday morning as they used rocks and debris to block a main road, following claims that the arrest of a local community activist was imminent.
Some stood on hills and threw rocks at officers, who then fired rubber bullets and teargas, according to News24 reporter on the scene, Christina Pitt.
She said a large crowd further down Mbeki Road ran away after Nyalas drove in and more teargas was fired.
The situation seems calm at the moment, with little groups watching police at a distance.
Unrest flared up overnight, according to Hermanus police's Colonel Luthando Nosilela.
He said the protest erupted after a memorandum was handed over to the police to demand the withdrawal of charges against Zwelihle Renewal's Gcobani Ndzongana. Charges of incitement of violence and destruction of public property were supposedly laid against him.
Fellow Zwelihle Renewal member Theron Mqhu told News24 that Ndzongana had made a Facebook post that could have been interpreted as a call to action after a fence was erected in Sculphoek without consultation with the community.Ndzongana's wife was spotted weeping outside the Hermanus Magistrate's Court following his arrest on Wednesday.
But Nosilela said no charges had been laid against him, although police were investigating.
"We don't have any information. We can't arrest anyone with emotion. We arrest on facts," he said.
The group also accused the station of maladministration – which Nosilela said was unsubstantiated – and demanded that the minster of police address them.
The unrest broke out after their demands were relayed.
Zwelihle ward councillor Valerie Pungupungu told News24 that people who did not participate in the protests stayed indoors after the unrest continued throughout the night.
Nosilela said he believed there was a political agenda.
Meanwhile, the provincial health department has confirmed that the Hermanus Community Day Centre would be closed on Wednesday due to the unrest and would "hopefully" reopen on Thursday.
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Patients were referred to their nearest clinic for medical treatment and to Hermanus Hospital for emergencies.