Emergency services stoned during Guy Fawkes

Stone throwing and gang fights were among the Guy Faux chaos last weekend. Picture: Pixabay

Stone throwing at emergency services reached a head on Guy Fawkes, Sunday November 5, when SAPS, metro police and law enforcement officers had to take cover.

Resident and community activist Widaahd Williams said the youth were targeting SAPS and law enforcement officers causing chaos and preventing emergency services, like ambulance from “helping our people“.

“This has an effect on the whole community,” she said.

Cheryleen Fredericks, Mitchell’s Plain Community Police Forum’s Tafelsig sub-forum and Ward 92 committee safety and security representative, said that there have been several reports of children throwing stones at each other.

“The call is made to law enforcement to respond. On arrival thing get out of hand and the children then throw stones at them,” she said.

Ms Fredericks said it was pathetic to see parents encourage their children and even pass bricks to them.

“Luckily no injuries were reported or vehicles damaged,” she said.

She said after the initial call out before noon on Sunday November 5 — two rival gangs took advantage of it being Guy Fawkes and started again at 2pm but there was no response from SAPS or law enforcement.

“How can an emergency vehicle serve and protect a community when there are stones thrown at them,” she asked.

Ms Fredericks said no one was prepared to give statements.

“They are all the culprits covering up for these thugs,” she said.

She called on the community to speak to their children.

Norman Adonis, councillor for Ward 92, condemned the encouraging of youth and adults to throw stones at emergency services.

He warned that if residents continued to support this behaviour — they would not receive any response from the City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Services, ambulance, SAPS, law enforcement, metro police and other related services.

Mr Adonis said they distributed posters on social media banning the use of fireworks in residential areas.

“The sale, offering for sale, display, possession or discharge of any fireworks — even those advertised as safe and sane — is prohibited. And subject to R5 000 fine,” read the poster.

Mr Adonis said the City did this in partnership with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) to stop the terrorising of animals with the loud noise and possible fires.

He said youth decided to throw stones at the officers of the law and keep them out of the area and to stop arrests and fines for having and firing fireworks.

Wayne Dyason, spokesman for the City’s law enforcement, confirmed an incident of stone throwing on Sunday at Benfica and Bayern Munich Roads in Tafelsig around 12.45pm.

“No one was injured. No vehicles were damaged,” he said.

He said that people were at risk of severe injury due to stones being indiscriminately hurled.

“Property like cars and houses are also at risk of being damaged. It traumatises innocent people, because a stone thrown at high velocity can cause severe damage to the human body,“ he said.

Mr Dyason said if the perpetrators could be identified then cases could be opened at SAPS.

He said that the City had consistently condemned this behaviour.

“We implore people to refrain from these harmful practices,” he said.

The municipality is encouraged by the downturn in the number of complaints in recent years.

He said that the perpetrators were mainly youngsters and that they scattered as soon as they saw officers approaching.

“People are encouraged to keep reporting these incidents when it occurs. The City has also activated an operational plan based on targeted patrols of known hotspot areas and also increased the number of officers on the ground,” said Mr Dyason.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith in a media statement said law enforcement officers had their hands full responding to fireworks complaints in numerous areas, including Lentegeur, Weltevreden Valley, Rocklands, Delft, Gugulethu, Bonteheuwel, Pelican Park and Sea Point.

“The marauding mobs that have become synonymous with Guy Fawkes too made an appearance – although more muted than previously – targeting pedestrians and motorists along Prince George Drive in the vicinity of Lavender Hill and Seawinds, as well as Parkwood, and Tafelsig,” read the statement.

“The statistics show that there is a downturn in the bad behaviour that we’ve come to expect over the Guy Fawkes period, but the City recognises that this offers little solace to communities where the fireworks and anti-social behaviour continues, year in and year out,” said Mr Smith.

He acknowledged the likelihood that not all incidents were reported.

“The City highlights the negative impacts of these bizarre celebrations each and every year, but snuffing it out is a shared responsibility and we appeal to more communities to stand up against these practices,” he said.