Cape Argus: Rioters stone children’s bus

Rioters stone children’s bus
Service delivery protesters run amok

November 13, 2010 Edition 1

Leila Samodien

A bus carrying about 30 children and NGO workers was stoned in Khayelitsha’s TR Section as residents protesting against poor service delivery ran amok for the second day running.

Trucks were set alight, cars stoned, and police said people also tried to set a creche alight.

The ANC’s Youth League has warned of more of the same today. The league says it has organised a service delivery march, with the region’s treasurer, Andile Lile, saying he could not be certain that the protest would not turn aggressive.

“The thing that happened in Khayelitsha, it might happen again,” he said.

“We won’t be able to control people’s emotions. We can’t say nothing will happen. But the most important thing is that we will continue with our protest and programme.”

Yesterday several children were hurt when a crowd attacked a bus carrying them to a year-end camp. Natalie Mason, a British musician from Birmingham and a facilitator at the Music Therapy Community Clinic, said they were “shocked” by what had happened.

Mason, four colleagues and children aged between 10 and 16 were travelling along Mew Way, one of Khayelitsha’s main roads, about 2.30pm when they reached a roadblock barring access to TR Section.

But when the bus turned around, a group of people began pelting it with rocks.

Windows were smashed and several children were hit. One child’s lip was cut and another was struck in the back by a rock.

“It was all so sudden; we were very shocked,” said Mason. “Luckily no one was injured too badly, and the children are doing well.”

The group, on its way to a camp in Villiersdorp, had already picked up children from Heideveld, and were collecting the last of the children in Khayelitsha.

Music Therapy Community Clinic director Sunelle Fouché said that while everyone had a “big fright”, they had gone ahead with the camp. “We got a new bus and informed all the parents, who are still happy for their kids to go on the camp.”

This stoning was one of many in Mew Way yesterday. Hostile residents randomly stoned cars and trucks, making it difficult for even the police to reach the area.

Authorities hung back, closing the road off at the Lansdowne Road intersection.

At the next traffic lights just a couple of hundred metres beyond the intersection, residents pelted selected vehicles with stones.

Later, however, they turned on any vehicle which drove past, including a big furniture removal truck and vehicles driven by other Khayelitsha residents.

Khayelitsha police spokeswoman Captain Anneke van der Vyver said that after violence on Thursday, things had quietened down, only to flare up again.

“This morning they tried to burn down a creche but they failed, and the owner laid a charge,” she said.

“One man even came into the police station threatening to burn down a creche in TR Section.”

Yesterday’s incidents came just hours after the ANC Youth League called a press conference to distance itself from Thursday’s trouble, during which protesters set alight several vehicles including a government car carrying matric exam scripts.

Allegations were rife yesterday that the youth league was behind the violence, with organisation Abahlali baseMjondolo, which itself faced blame for the incident, pinning it on the league.

At yesterday’s press conference, called by the league’s Dullah Omar region, it denied any involvement in the TR Section violence, and announced it would hold a 14-day protest against poor service delivery, which would begin when they secured a protest permit from the City of Cape Town.

Lile said a separate league march would be held today to protest against poor service delivery and against banks which did not assist poor clients.

But the City of Cape Town said if today’s march went ahead it would be illegal.

Spokesman Charles Cooper said the league’s application for a permit had not been granted for today.

“We informed them that the police could not attend to them because of another commitment and they agreed to protest on November 19.”

He said the city had also not received an application for a 14-day protest, which Lile said they had submitted last Monday.