NEWS
18/05/2018 07:27 SAST | Updated 18/05/2018 07:28 SAST

Hermanus Protests Halted As Agreement Over Land Reached

Earlier on Thursday tensions over land reached boiling point after residents from Zwelihle tried to prevent people from going to work. Police fired rubber bullets to disperse the protesters.

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Following protests over land in the town of Hermanus, the Overstrand Municipality, representatives of Zwelihle residents and the Western Cape department of human settlements signed an agreement of intent through which land will be made temporarily available for housing while negotiations for a permanent solution are ongoing.

Earlier on Thursday tensions over land reached boiling point after residents from Zwelihle tried to prevent people from going to work. Police fired rubber bullets to disperse the protesters.

Four people were arrested, said police spokesperson Brigadier Donovan Heilbron.

In March, groups of people started moving on to vacant land in Hermanus and pegging out plots for the building of houses. They wanted the municipality to provide services such as electricity grids, water and sewer lines.

Schulphoek was identified as a site they wanted because they were fed up with living in cramped conditions and high backyard rents while luxury developments mushroomed around them.

On Thursday afternoon an agreement was reached to make land available for the community of Zwelihle on land around the township, including Schulphoek.

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"The meeting took place in good spirit and with mutual respect and trust. The representatives committed themselves to perform aforementioned action within their mandates and delegated authorities," the municipality said in a statement.

"To address the needs of the most vulnerable it was also agreed with the approval of the executive mayor – as a temporary solution, to make a portion of land earmarked for housing behind the Hermanus Swimming Pool available where the temporary structures can be erected.

"The basic planning of said area will be done as a matter of extreme urgency. The allocation to potential beneficiaries must be finalised at the aforementioned meeting on Saturday, 19 May 2018."

Marthunis J Barnard from MyWhaleCoast also attended the meeting and said the municipality agreed that the matter was urgent and that basic services rendered on the temporary site would include toilets, taps and the provision of electricity, but that all this was subject to approval from the finance committee.

"The engineers requested to take tomorrow to do a layout for the land and provision be made for emergency vehicles to access the informal settlement," Barnard added.

He said a meeting would be held this Saturday between the municipality and the Zwelihle Renewal Group where proposals on how the land will be allocated will be put forward.

The current owners of Schulphoek have agreed to sell it to the government, pending a valuation.

News24 previously reported that the land was originally earmarked for luxury homes. The same piece of land was originally sold off by the municipality.

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