Violent protests around the south of King William’s Town yesterday left police officers and protesters injured and caused traffic mayhem with three road closures, one of them the N2 to East London.
Four residents were arrested on Monday.
Yesterday, in a day of rubber bullets and stones whizzing through the air, a petrol bomb was thrown at a BCM law enforcement vehicle by protesters as they fled.
The protesters, mainly from the Breidbach community, also closed the N2 on Monday.
Desperate King William’s Town police yesterday requested backup from East London, Cradock, Port Elizabeth and Mthatha police.
More than 70 public order policing officers were dispatched yesterday, in addition to Metro law enforcement.
A police helicopter hovered while angry residents continued demanding “long overdue” RDP houses.
In a memorandum handed to acting BCM mayor Helen Neale-May on Monday, the protesters also demanded to be addressed by President Jacob Zuma and Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle.
They claimed their ward councillor, Sixolisiwe Ntsasela, had benefited from housing meant for disaster victims.
“The water meter [is] not read, municipality estimates it.
“The electricity is too high.
“Build extra ponds for sanitation,” the memorandum read. Officials from cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta), SA National Roads Agency Limited, BCM, and provincial human settlements were also dispatched to talk to the residents. By yesterday afternoon the situation was calm, pending a meeting scheduled for 7pm between the residents and officials.
Resident Michelle Quilie said the protesters would only stop the protest if “the outcomes from the meeting is positive”.
A family of four from Qhalashe location near Breidbach was the most affected by violence linked to the protest.
A mob – allegedly led by Ntsasela, her husband Welani and sister-in-law Busisiwe Bonkolo – threatened the family and vandalised their home.
A spaza shop was looted.
It was the home of Nancy Setshego, allegedly because she was believed to be one of the protest organisers.
Video footage taken at Setshego’s home shows Ntsasela and her husband inside Setshego’s yard. When asked about the incident, Ntsasela first denied that she was there and demanded proof.
When the Dispatch told her about the footage she said: “I was there to calm the residents to stop what they were doing.
“The residents from Qhalashe believe Nancy was part of the protest. I asked them to stop and they shouted at me and I left.”
In September the Dispatch reported that Setshego, Ntsasela and another person were arrested on crimen injuria charges after Setshego opened a “harassment, verbal and mental abuse” case against them claiming that she was targeted for stealing members from the ANC for the DA.
“They came to my house twice on Monday, first in the morning and again in the afternoon. My husband was assaulted and they lit up a tyre threatening to kill me.
“I was not even part of the protest they were accusing me of, but because I was scared for my life I said I would move out by 3pm. When I was at the police station reporting what had happened around 7am on Monday, my 16-year-old son called me crying and told me they were back and tearing our home down and looting my stock,” Setshego said, adding that she lost about R20000 worth of stock.
lHowever before the meeting was supposed to start at 7pm the entrance was barricaded with fire at Breidbach. State officials could not enter.
BCM chief whip Mzwandile Vaaiboom said: “Our assessment is that it is security risk to address them in an open space, even to enter the hall.
“As the chief whip I am prepared to address this community with the full technical backing of officials from Cogta and BCM.”
The meeting was rescheduled by agreement to 8am this morning.