We are not behind Stellenbosch wine farm occupation - EFF councillor
The EFF denied that it was behind an alleged Stellenbosch "land invasion" which escalated into clashes with police around Kayamandi on Monday as evictions were carried out.
"I was told, 'Look, this is not a political initiative. We don't want the EFF involved. We don't want any political parties involved'. It's driven by people across political affiliations," said Stellenbosch Economic Freedom Fighters councillor Derrick Hendrickse.
"They are doing it, [the occupation is] not under the hat of the EFF or the ANC, or the DA.
"They didn't want me to come in there with my EFF beret. They said, 'this not a political thing'," Hendrickse said of previous visits to listen to the groups of people calling for land to build on in the area.
He said the alleged occupation had not been planned, nor discussed at meetings, but was a response by backyard dwellers who had raised their need for land with the municipality in May.
The party's treasurer in the Winelands, Zukisa Xegwana, said he was called urgently, while at work on Monday, by people upset that machines were breaking down their shacks.
The evictions were being carried out by the Red Ants following instructions by the Sheriff of the Court.
He said authorities had waited for everybody to go to work and had then moved in to dismantle unoccupied shacks.
In terms of the court order granted to the owners of Louiesenhof wine farm, only unoccupied shacks could be removed, and no more shacks could be built.
Xegwana said the occupants believed that, although the court order had been obtained on Saturday, the executors of the order had strategically held back until Monday for people to lock up and go to work.
'We want to have our own space'
He said people were running from work back to their shelters, and that clashes with police had started when some angry residents started stoning buildings in the Kayamandi corridor where taxis operate, as well as the Kayamandi Mall.
He said police had responded with teargas and rubber bullets.
Xegwana said the main roads into Stellenbosch from the Kayamandi side were closed, and that traffic was being diverted.
A backyard dweller himself, Xegwana said he was not part of the alleged occupation but could relate to the backyarders' concerns.
"We are so tired of rent, because in Stellenbosch we don't have much work. We want to have our own space, but the municipality takes very long to respond to us."
Police comment on the clashes was not immediately available.
The municipality issued a statement saying there had been looting and damage to property.
"While it is encouraging to see communities exercising their constitutional rights to demonstrate peacefully, the level of violence and destruction of property that accompanied these activities today is of great concern to us," a statement said.
"It is becoming increasingly clear that a small group of troublemakers and ringleaders are behind this protest. These individuals are simply taking advantage of the situation by looting and stealing. Shop windows were broken, cars were vandalised and stores in especially the Bird Street area were looted.
"We cannot allow a small group of criminals to hold our business and residents hostage. Let it be very clear - looting and the destruction of property is never an answer and will not be tolerated in Stellenbosch."
Earlier it stated that a meeting had taken place on Sunday with various role-players to find a solution to the alleged illegal occupation of the piece of private land.
Premier Helen Zille, Community Safety MEC Dan Plato, Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde, Mayor Gesie van Deventer and the police attended the meeting.
"To our knowledge, the operation of removing the structures erected on the private land is going ahead. The municipality continues to monitor the situation closely and provides assistance within our legal framework.
"The municipality has interdicts on municipal land. We continue tirelessly to provide as many housing opportunities as possible for all beneficiaries on our database."