Millions of rands damage caused by protesters

One of the cars that was torched during the protests

Vrygrond protesters caused millions of rands of damage when four cars and several buildings were torched after 62 shacks were removed by authorities from a piece of land that had been illegally occupied since Sunday May 13.

One of the vehicles belonged to Ward 67 councillor Gerry Gordon.

Ms Gordon was in the area for a community meeting on Sunday when some protesters targeted her, held her hostage and set her car alight.

The New World Foundation NPO in Lavender Hill, the landfill site behind Vrygrond and shops at Capricorn Park were also petrol-bombed on Sunday and Monday evening.

A man at New World Foundation sustained minor burns and two women were roughed up by the crowd.

Law enforcement and Metro police had to stand guard at Capricorn Shopping Centre after receiving a tip-off that the crowd might target the petrol station.

At the time of going to print yesterday, no arrests had been made.

The City of Cape Town’s JP Smith condemned the violence in Vrygrond and confirmed that it was related to illegal land occupation.

“The City of Cape Town is alarmed by the acts of violence that played out in Vrygrond,” he said.

“Various City departments participated in the removal of 62 structures that had been erected illegally. As the operation came to a conclusion, City enforcement staff were attacked by a crowd of approximately 100 people who pelted stones and half-bricks at the officers. They responded with rubber rounds,” he said.

Overnight on Sunday, a group of people targeted the City’s Coastal Park landfill site adjacent to Vrygrond. They set alight three heavy machines, a quad bike and a staff canteen.

Later, in Capricorn Business Park, two premises were set alight.

On Monday evening a group petrol-bombed part of a building at New World Foundation.

Mr Smith said the City’s enforcement services would remain in the area to monitor the situation with police.

He said costs were still being finalised.

“The damage caused to one piece of equipment (at the landfill) alone is estimated at approximately R7.5 million.

“The City will do everything possible to minimise any potential service delivery disruptions as a result of the damage caused,” he said.

Mr Smith said there was no justification for the acts of violence and destruction.

“We call on anyone with information about those responsible for the malicious damage to property to report it to the City’s Public Emergency Communication Centre by dialling 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 from a cellphone,” he said.

The DA Women’s Network (DAWN) condemned the attack on Ms Gordon, a DA ward councillor, who escaped with the support of the Metro police.

Chairperson in the Cape Metro region, Ncumisi Mahangu, said: “We are relieved to report that Councillor Gordon is safe and unharmed. She will be receiving counselling and victim empowerment support. Although shaken by the ordeal, she remains fully committed to service delivery to the residents in her ward.

“This level of criminality is an affront to democracy and rejected with contempt.

“The intimidation of Councillor Gordon and destruction of her personal motor vehicle will be further investigated,” said Ms Mahangu.