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4 suspects held after Khayelitsha COVID-19 treatment facility torched in protest

It’s understood the protest started after law enforcement tore down structures in a newly formed settlement in Makhaza.

FILE: The Desmond Tutu Hall in Khayelitsha was damaged extensively during a protest on 18 July 2020. Picture: @CityofCT/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - Police arrested four suspects for arson after the Desmond Tutu Community Hall was partially burnt in a protest in Khayelitsha at the weekend.

It’s understood that the protest started after law enforcement tore down structures in a newly formed settlement in Makhaza.

The shacks were illegally erected on municipal land.

“It’s city-owned land that is earmarked for development. We will be building and getting a contractor on-site, but now they are trying to invade that particular site,” said Malusi Booi, Mayco member for Human Settlements.

Mayco member for Community Services and Health Zahid Badroodien said: “The city cannot continue to repair facilities that have been destroyed by a selfish few. We cannot condone this criminal behaviour. I call on the community to report these persons who torched the facility to SAPS.”

He said the clinic facility would have assisted with treatment, testing, and isolation for COVID-19 positive patients.

The Khayelitsha Development Forum’s Ndithini Tyhido condemned the attack.

“Any protest should be allowed to happen, but all protests must be conducted in a peaceful manner. We find it as an attack on the community of Khayelitsha,” Tyhido said.

LEGISLATION ENABLING LAND INVASIONS?

The City of Cape Town said that the national legislation needed to be amended to put the brakes on land invasions.

The city's JP Smith said that there were shortcomings in the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act.

"The failure by national government to publish regulations in terms of the Act as well as the poorly written and problematic Regulation 36 of the lockdown regulations of the Disaster Management Act has led to an environment within which land invasions are proliferating."

He said that there were currently more than five land invasion attempts each day across the metro.

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