PHOTO ESSAY | CAPE TOWN 

In photos: Ocean View residents and police clash over failure to reduce crime

“The people are suffering because crime has taken over. We’re crying for help.”

Picture of protesters in Kommetjie Road
Onlookers watch as residents from Ocean View block Kommetjie Road during a protest on Thursday. All photos: Ashraf Hendricks
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Police and about 150 residents of Ocean View in Cape Town’s south peninsula clashed on Thursday. This was the second consecutive day of protests. Youths blocked Kommetjie Road with stones, burning wood and tyres, while police used rubber bullets and teargas to disperse them. The protests continued throughout the day.

The purpose of the protest, which started peacefully on Thursday morning, was to demand that police take action to reduce the high level of crime in the township. Throughout the day discussions took place between public order police, the local neighbourhood watch, pastors and community representatives. But there appeared to be no resolution as barricades continued to burn.

Protesters complained about the lack of arrests following fatal shootings and other crimes in the community related to gang activity. A fatal shooting on Tuesday night that apparently left at least one person dead appears to have set off the demonstrations. (GroundUp had not been able to confirm this at the time of publication.)

“I was robbed last year in July by young boys who pointed a gun to my face and took my things. My two boys have also been robbed at gunpoint. When I reported it to the police they asked me what I was doing on the streets. We want the murderers and gunmen out of our community,” said Lee Adams.

Angelique Williams shouted: “We are here to take our streets back. The police must recognise us and take this matter seriously. The gangsters shoot even young kids, with deaths every week. When we report to the police they don’t come. Currently the gate to our local police station is locked. They’re supposed to protect us.”

Paul Franke, a member of the neighbourhood watch, said that after numerous discussions with local committees, councillors and the police about crime in Ocean View, the community had seen no results. “This is clearly the only way they will hear us. We’re not fighting with them but we’re fighting for our community to be safe once again. Twelve of my relatives have been killed through gang-violence,” he said.

Addressing the protesters, Andre Stewart said that the police also needed to protect those who report cases: “If you talk, you’re dead tomorrow. The people are suffering because crime has taken over. We’re crying for help.”

After discussions between various parties, a few police trucks, vans and metro police entered the township. But after a short while, a police truck was seen exiting, which angered the protesters. Nevertheless, the crowd was soon calmed by one of the community leaders.

However, a few boys who had been watching the protest from across the road began throwing stones at the truck that was moving away. This saw police retaliating, shooting teargas into the crowd. Shortly after, a water cannon dispersed the crowd and extinguished the burning tyres.

Chaos then erupted as stones were thrown by protesters, and police released teargas.

A resident throws oil onto an Ocean View road sign during Thursday’s protest against inadequate policing. 
About 150 people joined the protest
Ocean View resident Andre Stewart tells protesters to remain calm and hold their ground.
A dog sits nonchalantly in the middle of the drama.
Protesters attempted to roll burning tyres down the street towards police but it continually failed.
Police and residents hold a meeting. During the mediation, police told residents that they would enter Ocean View and remove firearms.
Resident cheer as more tyres are brought to the protest.
The barricades became large.
A water canon was used to put out the flames. A small group of residents threw rocks and shot a flare at police causing matters to escalate.
Protesters, a large number of whom were children, bocked the road. Police fired stun grenades to disperse them. 
The water canon put out the flames and dispersed protesters.
Protesters retaliated by throwing rocks which in turn made police fire rubber bullets and tear gas.

Children burn barricades. Video: Ashraf Hendricks

Letters

Dear Editor

Regarding the protest happening in Ocean View at the moment, SAPS has failed this community so badly! Continuous drug related violence has taken the lives of so many innocent adults and children in our community.

When contacting the cops no one pitches, or they come hours later. They are not active enough in our community and their lack of presence is the reason why gangsters are getting away with murder. Standing up for ourselves is the only way this will be resolved. This has gotten people interested in what is happening in Ocean View. Yesterday we were chased like dogs with rubber bullets and tear gas flaring everywhere. Why can they not shoot the gangsters/murderers? Why do they not do raids? Police in Ocean View are incompetent.

We deserve to live without fear! We deserve to be freed from being held hostage in our community from these gangsters. Are the police not there to serve and protect?

I made some video clips yesterday of police :( really sad how our people, the ones who wants a change, were treated like rats having to go back into a cage! Pathetic, insulted, angry are but a few emotions I feel right now!

Dear Editor

The people of Ocean View have been pleading for decades. As a teenager, I remember wanting to be a helper in my community. Our people are starving, they are unemployed and left to die. Many are pushed into doing things they do not wish to do, from housing to education to local clinic services are limited.

Every 5 years when it comes to elections, promises are made and when you call the police you will be lucky if a van comes out. There’s red tape on every project, every progress stagnated by those in power. Youth are hopeless as they are left to their own devices even if you finish matric what is there to do in Ocean View? There’s no shops, no cinema, no post office, and no play park.

We are caged like animals thrown in a ditch and left to die. Our blood is running in the streets of Ocean View.

What did you expect to happen to the generation that came from Apartheid and left to die?
You have a right to life, freedom, information and education … Ocean View has always been the forgotten people who are left to die.

Dear Editor

We all feel let down by government, corporations and Ponzi schemes, on a continual basis. There is no support on the ground for the people, and it can feel like we are drowning and no one cares.

It would be great if our tears and fears were heard. If just for once we heard some positive answers and saw proper action taking place. If the people who govern us could actually care and let go of their corrupt ways.

Instead of supporting the thugs and making a mockery out of the people. This of course is not possible in the present state of affairs. Our government obviously does not care, they are far too preoccupied with filling their pockets.

So it is up to us, the people to take back our Mother Land - we all still can be free, and it wont be achieved by destroying and neglecting what we have. It will be achieved by standing together and building each other up - building a nation of strong independent thinkers.

There are many of us who still believe in a safe place, where people are loved and children can run free and it is with these people, that we must connect. We can create our own security forces within our communities. We must rise and realise that we are not the victims and that we have the ability to be just as scary as any thug.

Think about it, why would you want the very people who would tear gas and shoot you with rubber bullets, protecting you?

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