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Zwelihle protesters give Bheki Cele a cold shoulder

Police Minister Bheki Cele has read residents the Riot Act and says he's not there to negotiate.

Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN

CAPE TOWN - It's been a somewhat cold reception for Police Minister Bheki Cele in Hermanus on Friday afternoon.

Some Zwelihle residents aren’t happy with Cele’s no-nonsense approach to dealing with unrest in the area.

Sporadic protests over land and housing in Zwelihle over the past few months escalated into destruction and violence last week following the arrest of a community activist Gcobani Ndzongana.

Violence once again peaked on Thursday night when a police officer was attacked by axe-wielding protesters.

Cele has read residents the Riot Act and says he's not there to negotiate.

As soon as the police minister told the hundreds of residents gathered on the Zwelihle sports grounds he's not there to negotiate but to lay down the law, a few dozens got up to leave, shouting at him.

Cele says no one will sleep until a stolen police firearm is found.

Resident Zwai Skosana is one of those who have approached Cele for a one-on-one meeting.

“Before he comes to address us, he must first engage with the leadership in order to hear both sides of what’s happening.”

Cele has agreed to speak to the unhappy community leaders next week.

“I will definitely give them an ear and that’s why we’ve agreed to meet again on Tuesday. They have issues especially with the police and service delivery.”

The officer who was attacked by protesters on Thursday night is recovering in hospital.

SAHRC INTERVENTION

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says it will continue its work in Zwelihle until the situation has stabilised.

The area has been volatile since protests over a lack of service delivery and housing erupted in March.

Ndzongana appeared in court on Thursday and Cele has confirmed that he is is a prison warden.

He's being held at Pollsmoor Prison until his next court appearance.

Skosana says the Overstrand Municipality has been slow to release land in Hermanus for much-needed housing.

“The municipality is delaying because they already gave us the dates but they are delaying and that’s where the problem starts.”

The SAHRC’s Chris Nissen says he’s been meeting with residents and the municipality and will continue these engagements.

“We will bring all parties including the business sector so that we can have a meeting of bringing stability in Zwelihle.”

The municipality says the process of buying land from private developers for affordable housing, is at an advanced stage.

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