KNYSNA NEWS - Much to the dismay of the municipality and the larger Knysna community, Hornlee residents once again blocked off the N2 last week, but not without reason according to leadership of the organisation Hornlee United.
Protests on the N2 have long been a feature that have marred the Hornlee area, as these have become a means for residents to express themselves and their issues, but the most recent protests on Thursday 13 June elicited a strong response from Knysna mayor Mark Willemse:
"I want to make it abundantly clear that the law will be firmly applied to elements that fuel anarchy within Greater Knysna," Willemse said.
"Although we as the local government tolerate divergent views, there will be no abuse of the political freedom we as South Africans enjoy, and if you break the law, you will be harshly dealt with," he said in a statement.
Moral core questioned
In the statement, Willemse referred to previous instances that negatively impacted Knysna. "A short year ago, Knysna was thrust into mourning after much-loved councillor Victor Molosi was gunned down in front of his home. Lawless residents then took it upon themselves to threaten two of Knysna's councillors with the promise of burning down their homes. Has the moral core of our people sunk so far that they are willing to destroy life and property without a moment's thought?" Willemse posited.
He concluded his statement by reminding protesters that their action would ultimately result in the economic destruction of Knysna.
Hornlee United later issued a response to Willemse's statement, explaining the protests were held out of frustration with the municipality.
"The community wanted to have their report-back meeting in peace, but that was sabotaged by the municipality and was left outside in the cold. That exaggerated the frustrations the community have with the issues of the prepaid water meters, backyard dwellers and no housing for Hornlee," the statement read.
When asked what they meant by the municipality "sabotaging" the meeting, Ralph Stander of Hornlee United explained that there had been a planned meeting on Thursday 13 June between their organisation and the community at the Hornlee Civic Centre but that the centre – which the municipality allegedly gave them permission to use, according to Stander – was not available when they arrived.
'No record of hall booked'
It also expressed Hornlee United's distrust in the mayor, as they feel that negotiations with him have been unfruitful thus far. It further responded to the allegations that threats were made against two councillors. "Have we threatened the councillors to harm them or their families? Certainly not. We will never do that and believe in a peaceful and lawful way of solving problems."
The statement concluded saying they as Hornlee United are still open to talks with the mayor and the municipality, as long as they are facilitated by the SA Human Rights Commission.
In response to the organisation's claims regarding the civic centre, Willemse stated there is no record of the hall having been booked.
Both Stander and Willemse mentioned that a meeting was scheduled between the municipality and Hornlee United for Wednesday night (19 June) to try and resolve issues, the outcome of which will be published next week.
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