Sun, 01 Aug 2021

  • The N2 between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route has been re-opened.
  • A week of protests had caused the highway to be closed to motorists.
  • Protesters had been unhappy about a delay in a housing project.

After a week of riots which have caused the closure of the N2 between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay since Monday, the national road was cleaned up and reopened - although a heavy police presence will remain.

Acting Plettenberg Bay Executive Mayor Sandiso Gcabayi and a delegation of Bitou Municipal officials, provincial human settlement officials and Western Cape MEC for Human Settlements Tertius Simmers, were in meetings earlier on Friday.

According to Gcabayi, the unrest has to do with delays in the implementation of the town's Qolweni housing project which includes the construction of around 170 houses for residents.

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The housing project issue has now been handed over from the Bitou Municipality to Tertius Simmers - and a truce appears to have been reached between the Qolweni community and officials with riots being called off.

Gcabayi told the media:

This action by protestors does not only cause malicious damage to properties, but it also affects the town's economy and image. It also threatens the lives of innocent people.

CEO of Plett Tourism Patty Butterworth has meanwhile written to the Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde, asking for his urgent intervention.

In her letter, she said: "We, the Plettenberg Bay Tourism Association, are extremely concerned about the recent uprising by individuals from the Qolweni township settlement in Bitou. In addition to their unlawful rioting behaviour, we are also concerned about the threats and bodily harm made against law abiding citizens who want to work, go to school, and conduct basic daily tasks."

Tyres

According to Butterworth, these actions include lighting fires, burning tyres, buildings and infrastructure and throwing stones and bricks at motorists, illegally gathering and not following Covid-curfew restrictions.

She pointed out to Winde how hard the Plettenberg Bay Tourism Association had tried to keep tourism and the hospitality industry alive, only to have it damaged by protests.

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In response to the Butterworth's letter and plea for intervention, Winde told News24: "I have received and noted the concerns of the CEO of the Plett Tourism Association. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have also worked hard to support the tourism industry and remain committed to doing so.

"While we all have a constitutional right to protest, none of us has the right to cause damage to property or threaten the safety of others and I call on residents to stop any riotous behaviour, which is in fact criminal."

He said to date, three people have been arrested on charges of public violence and they will appear in court on Monday.

Since the N2 has been closed Plettenberg Bay families who send their children to school in Knysna have been affected, events in Plett and Knysna were cancelled, and holiday bookings were also reportedly cancelled.

Source: News24

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