'Someone must be held accountable' - residents protest peacefully in Hermanus

Around 2 000 people marched from Zwelihle to the Hermanus municipality on Friday morning, peacefully protesting over service delivery in the area.

There were some complaints of intimidation, but by mid-morning no arrests had been made and no damages were reported.

The marchers wanted to air their grievances to the mayor of the Overstrand municipality and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille.

"They walked peacefully to the municipality," cluster commander Brigadier Donovan Heilbron said.

Heilbron added that the group sang and danced down the R43 on their way to the municipal offices.

Police monitored the march and ensured safe passage from Zwelihle for people who needed to get to work. The road was opened after they passed through and all other roads in the area were cleared.

Local publication MyWhaleCoast has been providing Facebook updates about the march and has urged people to not spread fear by sharing unverified information and voice notes containing "unfounded facts".

News24's sister publication, the Hermanus Times, was at the scene.

A spokesperson for the group, Gcobani Ndzongana, told News24 the municipal manager, Coenie Groenewald, and the council should step down because they have been dragging their feet over service delivery, causing unrest that flared up in the area earlier this year.

Ndzongana said the knock-on effect of this was that businesses were suffering, putting people's jobs at risk. 

He said that for example, if the municipality had followed procedures with the original sale of Schulphoek - a large sea-facing plot that the provincial government is in the process of being bought back - the unrest that flared up in March would not have happened.

Ndzongana is part of a large group of people arrested on a raft of charges during the unrest in which rubber bullets and rocks flew in standoffs between protesters and police. 

Ndzongana said they had submitted petitions, protested, and met with the council but were still not seeing results and reached the end of their tether. 

"We have been coming to the municipality and handing over all those memorandums," he said. "Business has suffered, pensioners suffered, someone must be held accountable," he said.

Comment was not immediately available from the municipal manager.

However, on its website on November 8, the municipality posted a response to demands made in a memorandum it received.

It said the contract of the municipal manager could only be terminated in terms of the provisions of his contract of employment and due regard must be given to labour laws. So, it cannot simply remove the municipal manager.

It also said the council could only be dissolved in terms of the provisions of section 34 of the Structures Act and section 139 of the Constitution.

In addition, it stated that the Schulphoek matter was being dealt with at provincial government level. 

A full list of the earlier demands and responses posted on November 8 can be found here.

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