Criminals responsible for Hawston violence

Police say criminal elements were responsible for the violence in Hawston over the weekend.

Angry Hawston residents burnt the Overberg Canine Unit office building and torched seven police vehicles on 3 November 2012, over the death of an alleged abalone poacher who died while in police custody. Picture: Carmel Loggenberg/EWN

HAWSTON - Western Cape Police strongly believe criminal forces played a significant role in this weekend's violent uprising in Hawston.

Angry residents from the Overberg fishing village went on the rampage shooting law enforcement officials, burning tyres and hurling petrol bombs at the police canine unit building.

A 13-year-old boy was admitted to the Hermanus Provincial Hospital after being shot in both his legs.

A total of eight law enforcement vehicles were torched and 3 people were injured.

At least two officers, who tried to rescue the dogs from the canine unit which was set alight, were injured.

Police brought in Nyalas to restore order.

Police Major General Peter Jacobs described the tense standoff as a well-orchestrated attack.

"As the police, we are clearly upset about it. But now we know it's a criminal element and not the community."

Police made two arrests on Sunday and are facing charges of attempted murder.

Seven police cars and a traffic vehicle were also torched.

Jacobs said they had evidence that police were directly shot at.

He added that no amount of community unhappiness could justify such an attack on the State.

Hawston ward councillors condemned the unrest, saying it showed that some residents had no respect for the police.

The violent protest erupted after the funeral of a suspected abalone poacher who died while in police custody as well as the recent arrests of two alleged abalone poachers.