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Swellendam Municipality Secures High Court Interdict Against Unlawful Protests

Published September 24, 2023
9 months ago

In Swellendam, Western Cape, a high court order has been granted in favor of the local municipality, effectively curbing any unlawful resident protests. The interdict covers the damage of property, intimidation of individuals, and road blockades. The court's decision, issued on the 20th of September, comes in the wake of several violent protests that have happened over the past weeks.



During August, a municipal office was incinerated and many local shops fell victim to looting. Later in the same month, a peaceful protest took place which resulted in the presentation of a memorandum to the mayor. However, during a large scale protest on Wednesday, the Thusong service centre (a municipal building) and a fire service vehicle were aflame, and multiple roads were barricaded in Swellendam’s Railton region.


The protests primarily stem from dissatisfaction over electricity tariff hike implemented in July and the municipality's recent stance that households qualifying for indigent subsidy benefits must reapply each year. Francois du Rand, the Mayor of Swellendam, stated on Wednesday that a 'campaign of terror' had targeted Swellendam, leading to significant setbacks for the community caused by the destruction of public property.



“This court verdict should be seen as a strong message that unlawful behaviour is not acceptable,” said Anton Bredell, Western Cape MEC for local government. Further, David Maynier, MEC for education, noted that Wednesday's protest saw 72% of learners at three schools not attending due to fear generated by the violent protests.


Despite the interdict, protesting residents like Riaan Jonas are seeking legal counsel. Jonas blames the recurring unrest on the mayor's lack of negotiation efforts. The ANC Overberg spokesperson Renier Louw has also denounced claims associating ANC with the violent protests, stating that their party is still studying the terms of the interdict.


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