Three people, including a minor, were arrested on Wednesday in a housing protest in Nduli, a residential area outside Ceres in the Western Cape.
The minor is apparently suspected of arson after a vehicle of the Witzenberg municipality’s department for roads and stormwater control was burnt out on Tuesday night.
That same evening, a truck transporting products from the well-known fruit and vegetable producer Laastedrif was set on fire.
The R46 was closed at Nduli on Wednesday and the municipality advised motorists, and especially trucks, to use alternative routes.
“Certain members of the community are unhappy about the allocation of houses opposite Nduli, which was built as part of the Vredebes housing project,” said David Nasson, municipal manager.
“The community members believe that all the houses should be allocated to the residents of Nduli,” the municipality said in a statement.
According to Nasson, the municipal management spoke to the dissatisfied residents on Tuesday night and tried to explain the allocation of the houses, such as that the elderly were given preference. However, the community was still not satisfied and the stone-throwing and violence continued.
The R46 in the direction of Touws River was closed almost all day on Wednesday. Police were in the area to monitor the situation, said Col. Andrè Traut, police spokesperson. “Cases of public violence are being investigated.”
According to the municipality, the police’s unit for public order was also at the scene.
The truck that caught fire belonged to the Shoprite group and was transporting products from Laastedrif to Cape Town when it was pelted with stones around 19:00 on Tuesday.
According to Cillié Landman, Laastedrif’s marketing manager, the driver was pulled out of the truck before he could turn around.
“The truck and wagon were set on fire and the products were burned together with the truck. The incident happened about 40 km from Laastedrif. “
According to him, after their season ended, Laastedrif still continued to give food parcels to seasonal workers because he realized how difficult it is to get a job in the pandemic. Many of the residents who received food parcels live in Nduli.
Rumors circulated on Wednesday that the army had been called in to help defuse the situation. However, Nasson says the military was in the area to help with Covid-19 awareness because Nduli is a hotspot.
According to him, the houses that are part of the project were also vandalized in recent weeks when the doors and windows were broken out.
“Security guards have now been appointed to protect the houses after some residents threatened to occupy them.”