Conflict allegedly broke out between the City of Cape Town’s law enforcement officers and residents of the Xakabantu informal settlement in Vrygrond at the weekend, causing officers to open fire with rubber bullets.
The Cape Times reports that nine people were wounded in the incident, and some were hit in the face.
“Law enforcement discharged rubber rounds to protect themselves, housing staff and members of a private company who were being stoned. Two people were arrested for public violence and detained at Muizenberg police station,” confirmed Wayne Dyason, Spokesperson for City Law Enforcement.
According to Malusi Booi, the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements, there is a court order in place to prevent the illegal occupation of this land. It is on City of Cape Town-owned land and it is not eligible for housing as it forms part of the False Bay Nature Reserve, formerly known as the False Bay Ecology Park. This is a multi-functional nature reserve and is intended to both conserve nature and serve local communities by providing opportunities for recreation and education.
“The City has had ongoing consultations with the group about the ongoing attempts to unlawfully occupy this land. Engagement with community members will continue,” Boois said in a statement.
“The Court granted a final order to the City to prevent the unlawful occupation of the land in question. The City will continue to remove unoccupied and unlawful structures to prevent unlawful occupation of land. This operation was conducted in terms of the court order, which is a legal remedy the City or a landowner has.”
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has written to the City’s safety directorate to condemn the alleged brutality. The City has received the letter and will engage with the commission.
This letter comes after other incidents of alleged violence at the hands of law enforcement. In July 2020, shocking footage appeared online of City of Cape Town officials violently removing a naked man from a shack in Khayelitsha. The City claimed he was illegally occupying City-owned land.
In November 2020, a wheelchair-bound man was manhandled by police after getting into a heated argument with the officers.