Twenty-one people have been arrested in the small Western Cape town of Riebeek-Kasteel and Riebeek West on Monday. Three of the perpetrators face charges of business robbery, while the rest face charges of public violence.
What started off as a protest quickly spiraled out of control and erupted into a full-on riot as 600 people protested in the town from Sunday to Monday.
Municipal manager of the Swartland municipality, Joggie Scholtz, said he and other officials had to be escorted to safety by police officers when the mood at a town hall meeting changed for the worse on Monday morning.
Protests were sparked by housing issues. Residents in Riebeek West are frustrated over who qualifies for a home that forms part of 244-unit housing project. The current cut-off age for those who qualify is 35 years old, and younger residents are worried that they will never qualify for a house. Special exceptions have been made for the elderly, disabled and military veterans to get homes before others.
Last week, 70 residents received letters informing them that they will receive houses, while others have been completely rejected or still do not know where they stand. Scholtz has said that no queue jumping would be allowed for any resident.
In Riebeek-Kasteel, which is a mere 6 kilometres away from Riebeek West, residents have complained about the high rental prices of living in small backyard dwellings and hanker for a real solution to the housing problem in the area.
Like other areas of protest, Riebeek-Kasteel is divided into one side which many artists and restaurants call home, while the other side must make due with poor service delivery and cramped conditions.
The gate of a local clinic was damaged during the riot, and the contents of a liquor store was stolen as well. Many private properties were vandalised and the windows of a library were broken.
Two town meetings are scheduled to take place in Malmesbury on Tuesday to resolve the issues in the towns.
Shop owners packing and leaving after their shop got looted during a Riebeek Kasteel housing protest. pic.twitter.com/BwzgORc328
— Athi Mtongana (@Artii_M) June 11, 2018
#sapsWC Total of 21 people arrested in Riebeek Kasteel & Riebeek West during protest action by #SAPS members & other law enforcement agencies since last night, 10/06. Community members took to streets to express dissatisfaction about service delivery. SWhttps://t.co/lRMjgdOqft pic.twitter.com/rgUkulPCeW
— SA Police Service (@SAPoliceService) June 11, 2018