PLETTENBERG BAY NEWS - Plettenberg Bay has been plagued by protest action in recent weeks and on Monday June 12, one such riot took a criminal turn when several protestors started looting local businesses.
During the course of the evening on Monday several Qolweni residents staged a protest on the N2 just outside the coastal holiday town. They blocked the N2 by setting several objects alight, including tyres.
It is believed that the action was sparked over housing issues following a recent incident in the area during which several homes were destroyed in a fire. According to authorities 25 structures had either been burnt down completely or partially. This affected 74 residents, including 31 children. It also led to one fatality.
Plettenberg Bay Crime Prevention Association (PBCPA) operations head Otto Olivier said they activated their rapid response unit following reports of the protesting. “A group of people blocked the road with burning tyres and other objects,” Olivier said.
Plettenberg Bay and Knysna police, as well as Bitou public safety officers, also responded. They redirected traffic out of harm’s way. Motorists were advised to use the Wittedrift/Avontuur road and Airport Road towards Knysna.
Olivier said all those involved managed to clear the road, but the protest action then flared up again, this time at the traffic circle near the industrial area. Several protestors started pelting passing vehicles with stones and continued to set various objects alight.
The protestors were once again “driven apart”, but not before the riot turned into criminal activity.
Olivier said some protestors broke into Diamond Liquors where they started looting the liquor store.
“Police, Bitou law enforcement and the PBCPA responded to stop the looting. The looters however retaliated by throwing stones.”
He added that the situation was eventually brought under control, but it was then discovered that several businesses and factories had been burgled.
“Several arrests were made and protest leaders were also apprehended.”
“PBCPA members met at Total garage for debrief and were joined by Prime Security when the unrest was under control. Continuous patrols were carried during the riots and during the night in the industrial area, especially at the businesses that were broken into to prevent further looting.”
This follows several protests in Kurland on the outskirts of Plettenberg Bay. This was also sparked after fires destroyed several homes in the small village.