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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist


WATCH: Swellendam municipal head office burnt down by protestors

The municipality said all entrances and exits in Swellendam are blocked, including the N2 highway.


Protestors torched the municipal head office in Swellendam on Wednesday, while several other buildings and shops were also looted.

The Swellendam Municipality, in the Western Cape, said all entrances and exits in and around the town are blocked, including the N2 highway.

“The Swellendam municipal head office is burned down. The fire department is on the scene. Businesses in the main town as well as in Railton have been looted and damaged,” statement on Facebook said.

The protests are over the hefty increases in municipal rates for water and electricity.

Watch: Swellendam municipal head office burning

Protests

The municipality said the protests originated from the informal settlement in Swellendam.

“While the right to protest peacefully is respected, the protest was not peaceful. Protestors mobilised from as early as 3am in the informal settlements. From Matjoks the protesters armed with sticks and makeshift weapons, clashed with the police. 

“Protestors moved from Matjoks through Railton and crossed under the N2 to Swellendam where they blocked off roads, burnt tyres and moved to the municipal offices in Voortrek Street, where they proceeded to burn down the municipal building and loot nearby shops,” it said.

The municipality said the situation remains serious and it is trying to stabilise the situation through mediation.

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Police monitoring

Police spokesperson Sergeant Christopher Spies told The Citizen police are monitoring the area.

“Preliminary reports available suggest that a group of protesters gathered in Swellendam at about 03:00 this morning. They blockaded several roads as well as the N2 highway with burning tyres and objects.

“Public order police with reinforcements from neighbouring police stations were deployed to the area in an effort to quell the situation. Police arrested 64 suspects on charges of public violence, malicious damage to property and arson,” Spies said.

Spies said law enforcement agencies will remain in the area until the situation is stabilised.  

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