Scores of police descended on Hangberg‚ Hout Bay on Thursday morning. SAPS’s Police Task Force‚ Public Order Police‚ and National Intervention Unit gathered at the corner of Atlantic Skipper Street and Karbonkel Road.
Teargas canisters‚ stun grenades‚ rubber bullets and stones hurtled through the air as police clashed with community members while two Nyalas drove in and out of the area for several hours. The police kicked in doors‚ as they searched house to house.
“Police are busy with a provincial operation in Hangberg of which details cannot be divulged at this stage until the operation is complete‚” said police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana.
Ward councillor Roberto Miguel Quintas said‚ “SAPS has been undertaking various crime prevention activities in the area”. He said that many of the residents of Hangberg have “asked for SAPS to carry out their duties in the area”.
David Weeder‚ 65‚ said he is a former policeman and has been living in Hangberg for 45 years. “This needed to happen. Our youngsters need to do the right things so they can become something. There have been many complaints about the crime here.”
But not all residents welcomed the police presence. “I am sick and tired of this‚” yelled Anita Jane Africa‚ 49‚ who was shot by a rubber bullet. She said each time the police come to Hangberg she keeps her children indoors. She said she wanted to take her child to the day hospital but could not because of the chaos. Residents said both the high school and primary school were closed on account of the police presence.
We saw three undercover police officers climbing out of a Nyala that had emerged from Hangberg. Africa said that the officers she encountered were also in plainclothes.
Weeder said he thinks that police were searching for poached abalone‚ illegal firearms and drugs. This comes amid protests and tensions over the disappearance of Hangberg fisher Durick van Blerk.
“They came in with a lot of guns‚ and just started hitting doors down. It just went crazy‚” said Edward Carolissen‚ who fishes for a living. He said he stands by his activities as a poacher. “There’s no work for us here. We must live from the sea … I’ve got a boat. They cut our fishing rights. We must work for two months. Then we must stay at home for ten months. How are we going to feed our family? It’s not right.”
Carolissen said he has applied for a fishing permit but that “no one gets quotas here”. He said he supports “six‚ seven families”.
However‚ a community member who asked to be referred to as “Shorty” said the poaching is “not about putting food on the table for your family‚ it’s more like ‘I want to show people I have money’”.
“Shorty” said that “if it is what they say it is regarding drugs and abalone‚ I think they (SAPS) are doing a great job. We all are raising kids out here … If you look at the future of the kids and the way the drug lords are using these kids to sell their drugs and poaching and stuff like that.” GroundUp