War in Langa – [PICS]



September 21, 2016
War in Langa – [PICS]

AIM AND FIRE: Riot police firing rubber bullets to disperse the 1000-strong crowd of protesters in running street battles yesterday. CREDIT: Ayanda Ndamane/DAILY VOICE

Cops battle protesters who burnt shops, blocked roads and stoned cars and trains.

LANGA was turned into a warzone yesterday as residents went on a rampage, demanding better housing, toilets and electricity.

They claim the City has been ignoring their peaceful pleas for service delivery.

Protesters torched the SA Post Office, looted shops, stoned vehicles and threw petrol bombs at police.

Cops responded with stun grenades, rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the mobs.

A mob of about a thousand rioters also damaged train equipment and placed concrete slabs on train tracks, leading to the Central Line being shut down, while the Western Cape Education Department closed all schools in Langa for the day.

By last night, cops arrested 33 people for public violence.

Community sources say the protests will continue today, warning that they will block the N2 and Jakes Gerwel Drive, if the detained residents are not released.

The protest ripped through Langa on Monday night, through the early hours of the morning and all of yesterday.

Shopkeepers and taxi drivers say they had been warned that “nothing would operate” yesterday, and fearful Somali shopkeepers locked up and evacuated the area.

Safety and Security MEC JP Smith, says by 8pm on Monday night, there were about 200 protesters, but police dispersed them by 10pm.


At midnight in Zone 23, they received reports of stone throwing on the N2, in an attempt to shut the highway down.

At 4am yesterday morning, the post office in Church Street was set alight and there were attempts to break into the Shoprite store.

Between 5am and 6am, rioters stoned trains between Langa and Bonteheuwel stations, before concrete slabs were placed on the tracks.

Smith says three of his officers were injured when they were pelted with rocks.

At daybreak, the mob turned their attention to Jakes Gerwel Drive and parts of the N2 highway, which was littered with burning tyres and wheelie bins, with rubble strewn around.

Protesters gathered in groups, facing off against riot police who attempted to force them back with rubber bullets and teargas.

Police vehicles sped in and out of the area, as cops tried to arrest protest ringleaders and protect shops and other property from looters.

Police spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Andrè Traut says about 1000 people took part in the protest, throwing stones at trains to prevent commuters from going to work.

“Thus far 33 people have been arrested on charges of public violence and one for the possession of a petrol bomb,” he says.

School kids roamed the streets aimlessly after schools shut down.

WCED spokesperson, Jessica Shelver, says this was to ensure the safety of pupils and teachers.

“Matric learners have not been able to write their trial examinations as planned,” she says.

“While we condemn any disruption to schooling at any time during the school year, the disruption of schooling at this critical time of the year is even more concerning.”


But community leaders say they will not stop protesting until Mayor Patricia de Lille comes to them with a “solid plan” to address their issues.

Community leader Mawande Dyantyi says their pleas have been ignored.

“We have been sending memorandum after memorandum to the City asking them to fulfil their promise for housing for all residents in Langa,” he says.

“We have backyarders here who are paying rent they can’t afford, we have people living in tiny hostels with more than one family sharing small units.

“We have issues around drains that are blocked and electricity that is always going off and nothing is being done about this.

Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements, Bernedicta van Minnen, condemned the protest and says the group is asking the City to prioritise their interests ahead of others in similar situations.

“We have been engaging with the leadership from the Langa Zones Hostel and they were made aware that other areas will also need to benefit from the Hostel Transformation Programme,” she says.

“They, however, are of the opinion that all of the hostels in Langa should be upgraded first before the programme is rolled out to other areas.

“During our engagements, the City indicated to the community that the provision of more housing opportunities in Langa will be considered once the planned projects have been completed.”

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