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Metrorail suspends train service between Cape Town and Retreat over public violence fears

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Metrorail

With the SAPS in the Western Cape placed on high alert in anticipation of “planned public violence action” in Cape Town, Metrorail suspended its limited train service between Cape Town and Retreat for Monday.

“The suspension comes as a safety precaution in the wake of service delivery protests,” Metrorail regional manager Raymond Maseko said on Sunday night.

“Based on the possible risk to lives and essential infrastructure, management has decided to suspend the service until the situation normalises.

“The region continues to monitor the situation and will announce when the service is able to resume safely.”

According to the City’s Traffic Service on Monday morning, several protests have broken out in various areas in the metro. Tyres have been set alight in Eerste River and Kraaifontein.

The City’s Maxine Bezuidenhout said both sides of the R102 in Eerste River are now closed at the intersection at Forrest Drive as well as Buttskop. In Kraaifontein, Old Paarl and Maroela Street are closed.

Reports have also been received of protests in Parkwood and Steenberg, while Military Road in Steenberg has been closed. Police are on the scene.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said: “We are deploying all our available staff to respond to any public violence.

“We respect the right to protest, but it cannot be violent or deny others access to get to work and emergency vehicles, especially if you haven’t bothered to go through the process in the regulations.”

WATCH: Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security JP Smith says law enforcement officials have been deployed this morning as protests break out in several areas in the metro. The Cape Coloured Peoples' Congress say they are protesting against poor service delivery in Coloured communities, gangsterism and gender-based violence. Smith has called for people to refrain from allowing protest action to turn violent, including the obstruction of access to public roads and the vandalism of infrastructure. Smith says, “We are deploying all our available staff to respond to any public violence. We respect the right to protest, but it cannot be violent or deny others access to get to work and emergency vehicles, especially if you haven't bothered to go through the process in the regulations.” (Video taken in Mitchell's Plain)

Posted by SABC News Western Cape on Sunday, July 26, 2020

Pressure group Gatvol Capetonian said they wanted to highlight the plight of backyarders. They alleged a memorandum they had handed over had been “blatantly ignored”.

Spokesperson Fadiel Adams said: “We will be shutting down major roads across the city between 5 am and 11 am. We expect communities from at least 15 areas including Delft, Belhar and Mitchells Plain to participate in this shutdown, and we call upon communities to support this initiative.”

Brigadier Novela Potelwa said in a statement on Sunday: “The SAPS in the Western Cape has noted with concern reports on social media from a grouping that threatens to shut down on Monday, 27 July 2020, certain parts of Cape Town, including major freeways and access roads.

“The reports, whether true or not, were a cause for concern, as they were likely to impact on the lives of ordinary citizens.

“It was on this basis that the management of the SAPS in the province had undertaken to mobilise resources within the SAPS and other law enforcement agencies under the auspices of the Provincial Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (ProvJoints) to curb acts of lawlessness.

“In the same breath, sporadic incidents of public violence that have taken place in various parts of the Cape Town metropole remain a troubling aspect for law enforcement agencies,” Potelwa said.

“It is on this basis that the SAPS in the Western Cape is issuing a stern warning to all communities to respect the rule of law. Cape Town, just like the rest of the country is still under lockdown in terms of the Disaster Management Act.”

“The coronavirus (Covid-19) alert level 3 of the lockdown had restrictions that everyone needed to observe and abide by. Gatherings were still prohibited under lockdown.

“The SAPS wishes to reiterate that public violence remains an offence that is punishable by law.

“The security forces on the ground would not hesitate to take decisive action should people embark on unlawful conduct. In anticipation of any eventuality, various SAPS units, along with the City of Cape Town’s metro police and traffic services, were on high alert.

“We remain committed to ensuring that all citizens of the Western Cape are and feel safe,” Potelwa said.

Mayor Dan Plato called on the police to prevent those intending to “terrorise law-abiding citizens”.

“It cannot be that a so-called ‘shutdown’ is announced and promoted in advance by opportunistic political groupings who plan to infringe on the rights of residents.

“This is planned criminality and must be stopped in its tracks…

“It is unacceptable that opportunistic elements can both announce and proceed to successfully close off major routes, vandalise infrastructure and prevent residents from going about their daily business,” said Plato.

-IOL

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