Rioters demand land

Joe Slovo residents invaded land at the weekend before protests broke out.

Riots erupted in Dunoon and Joe Slovo at the weekend leaving two trucks torched.

Police used stun grenades to disperse crowds of protesters in the two areas after City law enforcement removed land invaders.

On Saturday afternoon, some Joe Slovo residents invaded land along Freedom Way that is usually used for informal trading.

Pictures of people demarcating plots were circulated on WhatsApp groups and later, law enforcement and SAPS removed the invaders.

Phoenix resident Sibongile Kofi said Joe Slovo residents had a right to that piece of land because the City had long ago promised it would be used for flats.

“My understanding is that there was an agreement back in the late 90s to use this land to build flats for the children of the people of Joe Slovo. Once those children had grown up, they would live in those flats when they move out of their parent’s homes.”

Mr Kofi said former councillors had known of the plan.

Joe Slovo community leader Noxolo Mayeki said she had also heard of the plan.

“The City will much rather formalise the trading area in Joe Slovo on Freedom Way rather than to build houses for people,” she said.

Mayoral committee member for human settlements Malusi Booi did not seem to know about the plan for the flats. “Please submit documentation for the City to look at,” he told Tabletalk when asked about it. “In general, the City continues to look at suitable well located land for accommodation purposes across the metro. Specifically in this area, the circumstances and suitability of each piece of land would be determined. Open land is not necessarily automatically for housing. All due process must be followed.”

In Dunoon, residents say that the recent land invasions started around May 20 at the nature reserve area behind Killarney International Raceway. Since then, there has been increased movement in the area until SAPS and law enforcement were called. The residents who had illegally occupied that area started protesting when authorities removed them.

According to ward councillor Lubabalo Makeleni, there are people from the township who identify vacant land, invade it and sell demarcated plots for a quick buck.

“Often these plots will be sold for R16 000. I don’t agree with the way they are doing things,” he said.

Dunoon resident Thando Kevu said: “Not everyone in Dunoon wants destruction. Not everyone is a criminal. Not everyone is burning tyres and trucks in the streets. Most people of Dunoon just want the same opportunities, or even half of that, as the rest of the country. While I don’t agree with the violence, I understand that people are tired of being poor and feeling hopeless.”

On Monday, provincial police spokeswoman Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said public order policing units were monitoring the situation as tensions were still high.

“The protesters are burning tyres on the roads. Two trucks were torched on the N7 and Potsdam Road is closed to traffic. Four people were arrested in Joe Slovo for public violence,” she said.

The four suspects were due to appear in court on Tuesday June 2 on charge of malicious damage to property, she said.

Since Saturday, the protests have grown more violent. Angry protesters have stoned cars, burned tyres and two trucks were set alight.

Mr Booi said: “It is totally unacceptable for protesters to damage infrastructure or to act violently against the best interest of the community at large. It will not be tolerated.”