Hermanus tense following land grab attempt - witness

Days of violent protests saw a satellite police station, at least one vehicle and a library come under attack.

Residents of Zwelihle near Hermanus protest on Monday 26 March 2018. Picture: Twitter/@HermanusOnline

CAPE TOWN - The Overberg town of Hermanus has been described as a ghost town.

Days of violent protests saw a satellite police station, at least one vehicle and a library come under attack.

A failed land grab last week sparked the violence.

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De Waal Steyn, who works for a newspaper in the community, on Tuesday told Eyewitness News that the situation remains tense.

“The high school and primary school have closed for the term. The Hermanus CBD is like a ghost town, with many businesses not opening their doors because they have no staff.”

Police have arrested several people following protests.

Western Cape Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela says the province’s land issue must be addressed, but in the proper manner.

Referring to the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) motion to change the Constitution so that land can be expropriated without compensation, Madikizela says politicians must act responsibly.

He says some have interpreted this move as a license to grab land as they please.

“I think this mad idea by the ANC and EFF that if you expropriate land without compensation, it will speed up reform… it’s a mad idea. We are in this situation. It was sparked by that motion tabled by the EFF which was supported by the ANC.”

Earlier this month, EFF leader Julius Malema said those who oppose land expropriation without compensation want to perpetuate white privilege so that black people will remain under apartheid-era property laws.

Malema called for South African land to be taken and added the state must be the custodian of it.

“We’re also aware that there are European parliament members who are trying to mobilise Europe into an imperialist neo-colonial programme of undermining the sovereignty and democratic rights of South Africa.”

The Democratic Alliance has since called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene.

President Ramaphosa has said that government will handle the land matter carefully through dialogue.

Additional reporting by Kaylynn Palm & Hitekani Magwedze.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)