By Bev Mortimer:
Thirteen people living in St Francis Bay are expected to appear in the Humansdorp Magistrate’s court this morning (23 June) on charges of public violence.
The men were arrested after the march and demonstration by more than 500 Sea Vista residents on Saturday, 21 June, near the St Francis Bay traffic circle. The men appeared in court and were later that morning released on bail of R100 each.
According to a statement received from warrant officer Basil Seekoei: “It was an illegal gathering and the crowd were given time to disperse but did not adhere to the command of the Public Order Police Officer. Stun grenades were than used to disperse them.”
The marchers occupied the R330 – St Francis Bay’s only entrance and exit route – for four hours from just after 5 am until just before 9 am.
Some organisers said they would not vacate the R330 until a member of the Provincial Council – not the Kouga Mayor – came to address them and hear their grievances. They said they were demonstrating by burning rubber vehicle tyres and branches which they set alight with paraffin and petrol.
Their grievances were the same as one year ago they said. These related to lack of housing, poor service delivery and that in the whole year – since the march on 18 May last year – nothing had been done to address their grievances. They stressed that no one locally and in Kouga had done anything to improve things and that the Eastern Cape Provincial Council was their only hope.
They sang and toyi-toyi-ed peacefully alongside the fires which some demonstrators kept on stoking. and the mood was peaceful. Just after 8 am they were given a warning to disperse. They were given five minutes and then the stun grenades were thrown at them by members of the Riot Police.
The marchers scattered in all directories and during the commotion one woman fell and broke her leg. She was admitted to hospital.
Some angry demonstrators then set fire to the bushes in two spots along the bushy ridge in Lyme Road North. These fires were extinguished by firemen.
Members of the Humansdorp riot police armed with rifles combed the bushes and surrounding areas and then arrested 12 people for public violence.
Some of the marchers shouted: ””We will be back”
Later on Saturday about 100 of the marchers gathered at Homestead road and sat on the grass verges waiting for the return of their ‘comrades’. They were watched by quite a few SAP members sitting in six vehicles and cassipir. When their ‘comrades’ arrived back from court a brief meeting was held and the crowd then went back to Sea Vista “to organise another march,” they told this newspaper.
It is reported that some Sea Vista residents will show their support for the arrested 13 by being present at the court today.
The march was initially organised by Zwelitsha and Kosovo residents in Sea Vista. Organisers then invited anyone to join in – no matter what their political affiliations and to march in solidarity for the same grievances. “It is a residents’ march – not an ANC or DA march,” marchers told this paper on Saturday morning.
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