Three protesters arrested in Bishop Lavis while calling for extra police to fight crime

Two men and a woman, who protested in Bishop Lavis for extra policing, ended up in police custody themselves when they were arrested for allegedly contravening the Gatherings Act.

The three people were arrested on Wednesday.

"Please be advised three people, a woman aged 48 and two men ages 43 and 49, were arrested this morning in the Bishop Lavis protest, they are facing charges of contravening the Gatherings Act," said police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana. 

"A group of about 600 Bonteheuwel community members were protesting against gang violence in the Bishop Lavis area. Intersections at Jakes Gerwel Drive, Bluegum Road and Jakkalsvlei Avenue and Valhalla Drive were blocked. 

"[Public Order Police] acted when the community became violent. Police will remain in the area. Currently, there are no further incidents reported," said Rwexana.

READ: Stun grenades used to disperse Bonteheuwel residents protesting gang-violence

DA councillor Angus McKenzie told News24 that the group had allegedly not heeded the terms of a protest permit as they demanded that Bonteheuwel, east of Cape Town's CBD, gets its own police station. They had allegedly blocked the busy Jakes Gerwel Drive.

However, he said the protests were intended to highlight a demand for more policing and possible support from the SA National Defence Force after previous pleas for help in stopping a criminal and gang element seemed to fall on deaf ears.

"Because of the high level of gangsterism in Bonteheuwel, our churches are having to close their doors because people will not walk to church under those circumstances. The little corner shop guy can't keep his shop open anymore because there is too much shooting," said McKenzie.

He said taxis and buses were reluctant to drive there, and that even repairs and maintenance by the City of Cape Town were affected because personnel were too scared to take their equipment-laden bakkies into the suburb.

He said he had already written three open letters to the Minister of Police and asked for increased visible policing because the current ratio of one police officer to 700 of the around 85 000 residents in Bonteheuwel, was inadequate.

"We are being ignored by national government," said McKenzie. 

He said a satellite police station was brought to Bonteheuwel, but its main work was to authenticate documents for residents.

'Frustration'

He said the closest full-service police station was in Bishop Lavis, but it was heaving under the workload of having to serve a vast area.

"This is a frustration and as a ward councillor, I share that frustration with that community."

He said he was trying to organise a community meeting for Friday at his council offices to take the issue further with the help of churches, businesses and civic groups.

Meanwhile, McKenzie has to be in court in Bishop Lavis on September 6 to face a charge of crimen injuria following a heated meeting with a woman over housing project in Bonteheuwel.

He said he was not arrested, but handed himself in to police. He also laid a counter-charge against the woman for allegedly slapping him, so she is also expected to appear in the same court on the same day.

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