Protest flares at flats

Residents set alight tyres in the streets earlier this week. They were upset by the outcome of a court case.

Angry Scottsdene residents burnt tyres and threw stones in Melody Street on Monday and Tuesday, according to a community leader.

Peter Syster, community activist and founder of the Oostenberg Community Forum Committee, said the protest erupted after the Western Cape High Court confirmed an interim eviction order to a final order and the court order was in favour of Calgro M3 Consortium.

Oostenberg Community Forum Committee represented the 500 Scottsdene residents, including women and children, who were evicted after they tried to illegally occupy a new housing development, Sunset Village flats on March 28,(“Illegal occupants evicted,” Northern News, April 4).

According to the court order, which Northern News has a copy of, residents may not enter the Sunset Village flats without written authorisation from the developer, Calgro M3 Consortium, and they must pay half of all legal costs. And Vetus Schola Protection Services must ensure that no harm comes to employees or subcontractors working on the site.

According to residents, the security guards were firing rubber bullets at protesters, injuring three women on Monday and two men on Tuesday.

Loriaan Croy 45, said she had been shot with a rubber bullet in her foot and was taken to the Kraaifontein hospital.

Ms Croy said the protests had already started by the time she had returned from court on Monday.

“I was standing on the pavement when they shot me, I was not with those people who were burning the tyres. When we arrived from court, we saw the people protesting in the streets.”

Susanna Marthinus, 65, said she had been shot in her right leg with a rubber bullet and taken to the Kraaifontein hospital.

She said: “Those securities shot me in the leg. We are not animals. We are sick of the empty promises, we want houses.”

Provincial police spokesman Colonel André Traut said he had no reports of arrests or injuries but confirmed that police had been deployed to the area to deal with protests.

Northern News has video footage that appears to show a man who has been shot in the stomach with a rubber bullet. In the footage, the authenticity of which Northern News was unable to immediately verify, SAPS officers ask the man to remove his shirt so they can see where he has been injured.

Mr Syster said Monday’s court judgment was unfair, and there had been no discussions at court about the evictions being illegal.

“I totally disagree with the judgment of the court. I am so disgusted that they did not speak about the illegal evictions. It seems that they have not done proper research. At this moment, it is sad to see how unhappy and frustrated these people are.”

Advocate Winston Erasmus said an appeal would be filed as soon as the judgment had been filed and stamped.

The community felt an injustice had been done to them but a protest should not have taken place.

“It is unfortunate that the community started to protest as this will be held against them if any damages are done to the property,” said Mr Erasmus.

Wayne Williams, group executive director for Calgro M3 Consortium, said: “We are appreciative that the court has found in our favour and hope that this will bring the matter to finality.”

He said Calgro M3 was unhappy with the current state of affairs at the flats as damage had been done to the property.

“Although we understand and have empathy for the predicament in which many homeless people find themselves, we are of the respectful view that these grievances must be taken up with the City and not with us as a private developer. Such measures should also be pursued through the appropriate legal channels, as lawlessness and violence is not the solution to such complex issues.

“The actions of the persons who have participated in the civil unrest in Scottsdene are not only affecting us as developers, but also all those people and their families who are renting or have bought houses within our development. Violence and property damage is clearly not fair to them either.”

Mr Williams said the completion of the development would start once “a sense of normality” had returned to Scottsdene.

Vetus Schola Protection Services CEO John Maxwell said his team had been sent to the site in Melody Street, Scottsdene, but he was in the office and did not know what was happening at the scene.