Chaos broke out during a protest in Bo-Kaap, one of Cape Town’s most historic and well-known neighborhoods, after the City of Cape Town’s anti-land invasion unit demolished the shacks erected by residents in the area on Wednesday evening.
The incident occurred due to the residents’ continued protest against the ongoing gentrification in the neighbourhood, and this is the first time that a Bo-Kaap protest has resulted in violence.
Protests have continued despite the City of Cape Town assuring Bo-Kaap residents that it would make an adjustment for spatial planning and deal with a Heritage Protection Overlay Zone for the area.
Speaking to IOL, Mayco member for informal settlements, Xanthea Limberg, alleged that her officials made use of pepper spray to defend themselves after residents became “hostile”.
Residents have contested this, saying that the officials were the ones who resorted to violence by dragging sleeping residents from their shacks. This left approximately 11 families without a roof over their heads on Wednesday evening.
“The City can confirm that the anti-land invasion unit (ALIU) conducted an operation in Bo-Kaap on Wednesday, 11 July, 2018 and removed the illegally erected vacant structures,” Limberg said. “The community became hostile towards the ALIU staff and contractor during the operation, and the officials therefore had to make use of pepper spray in their defence. The City then immediately reported the matter to SAPS.”
Two weeks ago, residents erected shacks along Voetboog Road as a form of protest.
Brett Herron, Mayco member for urban development, has said that officials have initiated the steps involved in beginning the updates for district plans. This will signal the start of the process to have the Bo-Kaap marked as a known heritage site.
“A report is being prepared for submission to the city council that will outline the process, including the proposed time frames, for updating the district plans,” he said. “I can assure the Bo-Kaap residents that the heritage resources within the Bo-Kaap area are valued and their concerns are not being ignored.”