Large crowds of several hundred people were burning branches and tyres at four different sites on the main,and only access road between Humansdorp and Cape St Francis in a service delivery protest yesterday.
The four fires were started simultaneously at around 7 am yesterday morning over a five kilometre stretch of road. The first two were located between the main entrance of St Francis Bay and the Sand River Bridge, the third at Tarragona Road, the main entrance to Sea Vista (township) and the fourth fire was across the road toward Cape St Francis at the informal settlement – the back end of Sea Vista.
Protestors tore down tourism signs at the entrance of St Francis Bay and stoned a municipal fire truck. Some of the rioters were armed with pangas and kieries.
“I called on Bobby Stevenson, DA caucus leader in Bhisho for political intervention by the provincial head of police, the MEC for Human Settlements and the Premier”, said Elza Van Lingen, the leader of the DA in Kouga, which includes St Francis Bay.
A Public Order Police Services (POPS) squad was sent from Port Elizabeth under the leadership of Maj. Vinqi.
Brig. Jantjies, the local Police commander was in full control of the situation and supportive of the operations on the ground. Capt. Kiwiets, St Francis Station Commander, was also on duty with all her personnel.
Van Lingen added that the DA will:
• Monitor the volatile situation at Sea Vista with SAPS over the weekend;
• Ensure that all the fires will be put out and law and order is maintained in St Francis Bay;
• Call and urgent meeting with Brig Jantjies, Municipal Manager Sydney Fadi and the full council to address the lack of service delivery in Kouga; and
• Meet with the full Bhisho Legislature team who will be in Jeffreys Bay on Monday to follow up on promises made in October during the “Taking Legislature to the People”-event and the progress made.
Each fire was manned and stoked by an angry group of protesters and their issues were against:
• Kouga Municipality for poor service delivery, lack of access to water, toilets and electricity;
• Kouga Municipality who has not responded to the letter written to the Municipal Manager and ANC mayor Booi Koerat by the St Francis Bay ward councillor Ben Rheeder after the previous march at the beginning of May, when the first protest action took place;
• The Eastern Cape Department of Human Settlements for not providing houses as promised in October last year during the Legislature’s visit to the area, as well as the delay in resolving the lack of drainage at new 95 houses constantly flooded;
• The Eastern Cape Department of Education for the poor progress in building the new school in Sea Vista.
A follow up meeting with the residents will take place tomorrow evening at 6 pm in Sea Vista, while the situation remains tense at present.