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Langa councillor’s home petrol-bombed

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Police are investigating cases of arson, attempted murder and public violence

Photo of torched flat
Protesting residents petrol bombed the home of Langa Ward 53 Councillor Samkelo John on Friday. Photo: Vincent Lali
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A Langa ward councillor says he narrowly escaped death after his home was petrol-bombed by angry residents from Zone 23 at the weekend.

Dozens of residents demonstrated outside the municipal offices last Monday. They were unhappy with basic services and wanted Ward 53 Councillor Samkelo John (ANC) removed from office.

On Saturday, John told how he had to jump from the top floor of his flat in the early hours of Friday morning to escape flames engulfing his home. “When I told the police that my flat was burning and the crowd was now trying to break my burglar doors with sledgehammers, they said they were coming.” John, who was home alone at the time, said he was trapped inside for about an hour before managing to escape through a top-floor window.

John said he had recognised some of the leaders of the mob on Friday. “They also contested during the previous local government elections and lost, but now they are still opposing my leadership,” he said.

John said two beds, three wardrobes, a couch, clothes and other valuables were destroyed by the fire. He blamed the police for not responding to fast enough. “They could not protect me and my property though I kept them aware about the whereabouts and actions of the mob,” he said. John has since opened a case against the mob leaders at the Langa Police Station.

John’s neighbour, Bongiwe Ntenteni said, “I peeped through the window and saw a large crowd first moving between the flats. They then stood outside the ward councillor’s window, violently shaking his gate and burglar bars.”

Ntenteni said she feared for the safety of her family after protesters warned her not to call the police. “My kid screamed and begged me to run with him to my sister’s place nearby, but I was too scared to leave,” she said. Ntenteni said when the fire began engulfing John’s flat, residents of neighbouring units rushed to move their own belongings to safety. She said the fire cracked her wall and damaged her geyser and ceiling.

Gloria Njeza, 49, who lives in a nearby flat, said she saw people carrying pangas, axes and other dangerous weapons. “I was too scared to come out and face the armed, angry crowd,” she said.

“One frightened resident threw her screaming kid to us on the ground as the fire came near her flat,” she said. She said that once the mob left, neighbours rushed to douse the flames using buckets of water and a garden hose.

Western Cape Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said public order police were assisting police and other law enforcement officers to monitor the informal settlement.

Van Wyk said cases of arson, attempted murder and public violence were being investigation. No arrests had been made, he said.

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TOPICS:  Crime Sanitation

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