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Protests in CT surge, becoming more violent

Land grabs often accompany the chaos and have also spiked. The municipality's anti-land invasion unit is being stretched thin.

Parkwood residents battled with law enforcement officials who broke down their structures on 23 May 2018. Picture: Kaylynn Pam/EWN

CAPE TOWN - In the first four months of 2018, Cape Town has been hit by 145 protests.

The City of Cape Town has been tracking demonstrations and says that this is a drastic increase compared to the 84 protests recorded over the same period last year.

And protests are becoming more violent.

Land grabs often accompany the chaos and have also spiked. The municipality's anti-land invasion unit is being stretched thin.

It's had to remove on average of 15,000 illegally erected structures and pegs used to mark out plots every year.

But in the first four months of this year it's surged to 26,000.

Woodlands in Mitchells Plain is the latest flashpoint.

Last weekend, a group of squatters tried on several occasions to occupy land.

As has been seen in past land grabs, it was characterised by violence. A road was blocked off and a fuel station attacked and looted.

Authorities say that some protesters used live ammunition against authorities.

The local community policing forum's Byron de Villiers: "We definitely don't condone this type of behaviour. It was peaceful all weekend. I would really ask them to stop what they're doing. Rather let us engage with the relevant parties and also again it was one of those incidents where something peaceful has been hijacked by bad elements."

Damage caused by a rash of protests seen in recent days will run into the tens of millions of rands says the city's JP Smith, who adds thta more than 30 problems areas have been identified.

"The city understands that there are communities with legitimate service delivery concerns. It is however becoming more and more apparent that legitimate issues are being hijacked by criminal and political intent."

WATCH: Mapping Cape Town's housing protests