The Western Cape Police have sent reinforcements to several townships on the Cape Flats after incidents of burglaries, looting of grocery stores and public violence on Tuesday afternoon.
A group of suspects stormed a supermarket in Gatesville at about 14:40 on Tuesday afternoon threatened cashiers and took five cash registers with cash and groceries.
Athlone police responded promptly and four suspects aged between 21 and 24 were arrested and some stolen items recovered.
Meanwhile in Manenberg large crowds took to the streets and broke into two wholesalers in the township helping themselves to grocery items.
Tracing operations by police to track the suspects and retrieve stolen items are currently underway.
Public Order Police in Mitchell’s Plain have been dealing with sporadic protests in Tafelsig that started mid-morning.
Large crowds took to the streets in protest against food parcels distributed to some communities within the broader Mitchell’s Plain townships.
Tyres were burnt, roads barricaded and police pelted with stones. Three suspects aged 16, 18 and 20 were arrested for public violence.
Western Cape SAPS management is cautioning communities against criminal conduct.
The police will not hesitate to take decisive action against those breaking the law.
When Ground Up visited Tafelsig yesterday afternoon, a large contingent of police and the SANDF were on the scene.
Rocks and coils from burnt out mattresses littered the streets. Each time police attempted to quell the protest with rubber bullets, the group of about 100 protesters would quickly disperse and regroup in a different part of the suburb.
When police in armoured vehicles chased them, protesters would again disperse and regroup, blocking other streets with rubble and burning tyres and throwing rocks at police.
Onlookers and children sitting on roofs scattered as police walked down streets in groups telling residents to go back inside.
“At the end of the day we’re not going to die from the coronavirus, but we will die of hunger”, said Lizle Manuel, chairperson of the Tafelsig Community Upliftment Forum.
Manuel said three weeks ago residents had received a Whatsapp message telling them to call a SASSA toll-free number about food parcels. After answering some questions on the phone, they had been given a reference number and told that the Department of Social Development would get back to them in one week.
But there was no word from the department. This frustrated and angered residents, said Manuel.
“People are protesting because they’re hungry and their children are hungry.” She said that the government had forgotten about the people in Tafelsig.
Photo: Residents of Tafelsig in Mitchells Plain took to the streets on Tuesday demanding food parcels. Photographer: Ashraf Hendricks