(Edited by Bev Mortimer)
Seven people were arrested for violent protest action in Hankey today, 19 August, after they blocked off the R331 road between Hankey and Patensie with burning tyres, cement blocks and tree branches and pelted two vehicles, one a police van, with stones.
“There was absolute chaos in Hankey today,” an eye witness said. “Angry mobs started striking and demonstrating.
“Cops and more cops arrived and used tear gas and water canons to dispel the mobs.”
The police also said they used rubber bullets, stun grenades to disorientate the violent crowds.
Witnesses said some people in the mob told them they were protesting to show their dissatisfaction with the current Kouga municipal government. It was a service delivery protest. They wanted housing.
According to the SAPS , the seven were arrested for tampering with essential infrastructure (contravention of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act 18 of 2015). Earlier, Kouga Mayor, Horatio Hendricks, addressed protesters but several of them continued with violent actions.
Motorists have been advised to avoid driving on that road as the situation was still tense this evening.
Police continue to monitor the situation and members from Public Order Police Unit have taken video footage to assist with their investigations. There is a possibility of additional arrests.
The seven suspects, aged between 22- 45, will appear in the Hankey Magistrate’s Court tomorrow, 21 August, on charges relating to the contravention of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act.
Humansdorp Cluster Commander, Brigadier John Lebok issued a stern warning to violent protesters to refrain from such actions. “These violent protest actions are going to face the full might of the law, “ he said .
Le Bok also urged protesters to be responsible during protest actions or demonstrations. Any person found guilty for contravening the above Act can be sentenced to imprisonment for a period of up to 30 years or issued a fine up to R100-million.
“The purpose of the Act is to ensure it addresses high incidence of crimes affecting service delivery to the public, such as theft of cables, water meters, bridge railings, manhole covers, and including damages to infrastructure such as public roads,” Brig Lebok added.