Hermanus protests

Hermanus protests: Cele addresses police officers, demands stolen firearm is found [video]

The latest from Hermanus and the threats of “live ammunition”.

Hermanus protests

The Hermanus protests have taken a particularly violent turn over the last 24 hours. With police firearms being stolen and an officer badly beaten by protestors, Police Minister Bheki Cele has been forced to step in.

Hermanus Protests: Zwelihle violently held hostage

A man was arrested on Thursday night after an officer was robbed of a pistol and a shotgun. While two of the three weapons had been found by police, one weapon remained in the hands of the protesters.

After arriving in the troubled Zwelihle area on Friday morning, Cele travelled to the police station to address officers and stakeholders in the area.

Members of the media were in attendance as Cele urged officers to “not get excited” and protect themselves and the residents.

Cele was joined in the area by Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and promised “to restore order” to the area.

While the latest wave of protests have been ongoing, a group of protesters have blocked key roads in Zwelihle and denied the majority of residences from receiving basic services.

Cele described the group as “thugs” and warned that he will be increasing the number of police in the town as well as setting up a base camp for operations from Zwelihle.

A particularly strong warning was handed out as Cele stressed that the special police teams that have arrived in Zwelihle are issued with live ammunition and not rubber bullets.

With residents fearing for their lives and being forced to stay off work, the Hermanus Business Chamber committed to do “everything possible” to try and pay staff who missed work. The chamber also stressed that it would help residents reconstruct their lives once the protests were over.

Cele eventually travelled to meet community members together with the premier. With a heavy police presence in tow, things started off calmly but tensions soon flared up. Officers in riot gear had to create a human shield in front of Cele as shouting residents approached.

While things did not turn violent, police have also announced that the majority of protest ringleaders were arrested during all night search and seizure operations on Friday.