KNYSNA NEWS - Two people were arrested and charged with public violence on Sunday after eviction agency the Red Ants and municipal law enforcement demolished shacks in Bongani and Khayalethu, Knysna earlier in the day.
The demolitions and subsequent arrest of a woman in Bongani had allegedly angered residents to the point where they barricaded all roads in the area with tree trunks, burning tyres and rocks, and the police allegedly responded with stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
The woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said she is still in pain from the experience. "They humiliated me and my body is in pain as we speak. I don't know what happened - the last time I remember they were chasing me."
She and a co-accused were taken to the police station, charged with public violence and later released. "The protest ended after the police brought me back because people wanted me released," the woman said. KPH could not establish the identity of or locate the second person who was arrested.
Another Bongani resident, Nozipho Ntlange, explained that people are building shacks because they don't have a place to stay. "When the Red Ants demolished the shacks the community decided to show their dissatisfaction by closing the road. When the community demanded the release of the woman they were answered by stun grenades and rubber bullets," she said.
"At home we are 12 staying in one RDP house. Some of the shacks that were demolished had furniture and there were people living in them."
A third resident, Patricia Totane, said a total of four shacks in Bongani were destroyed. "And people's material was damaged," she said.
Meanwhile, on Monday night, residents of neighbouring Khayalethu Valley and Katanga areas also resorted to closing the R339 Uniondale road with burning tyres in protest against the demolitions on Sunday, before they were dispersed by police.
According to Khayalethu Valley resident Lwanda Madikane, the shacks that were demolished had people staying in them.
Municipal spokesperson Christopher Bezuidenhout said the municipality takes a firm stand of zero tolerance to land invasion.
"The Red Ants acted on a strict instruction by the acting municipal manager to demolish these illegally erected shacks on municipal land. It should be noted that these were partially built structures that were not occupied. The Covid-19 regulation on evictions is clear on who should not be evicted during the pandemic period… the shacks were not occupied," he said.
Police spokesperson Sergeant Christopher Spies said Knysna detectives are investigating a case of public violence after a group of people blockaded the road with objects at Bongani on Sunday 2 August at about 13:30. "Police responded to the scene and dispersed the group. Further police action resulted in the arrest of two suspects on charges of public violence," he said.
'We bring you the latest Knysna, Garden Route news'