Cape Town – The Langeberg Municipality says that about 200 people, mostly women and children, sought refuge at the Robertson police station as they fled ongoing violence in the Nkqubela settlement last night.
Violent clashes flared up between Lesotho and Zimbabwean seasonal workers at the Nkqubela settlement in Robertson due to alleged discriminatory employment issues on farms in the surrounding area.
Earlier this week, a Nkqubela community meeting was called where unemployed locals voiced their grievances that labour brokers were “employing foreign nationals and taking their jobs”. During the meeting, it was concluded that a protest would take place.
“On Thursday 17 March, approximately 500 residents blocked the entrance to Nkqubela with burning tyres and throwing vehicles with rocks to prevent contractors from loading workers onto vehicles. The protest then turned into a fight between Lesotho and Zimbabwean nationals,” said Langeberg executive mayor Alderman Schalk van Eeden.
The municipality says that one person has been hospitalised, and 17 people reported minor injuries, of whom two are children. About 20 dwellings of foreign nationals have been broken into, and some burnt.
Witnesses have reported fires and vandalism to shacks and houses. The municipality says that the fires have damaged part of a 66kV electrical line and power will be down in Goudmyn and Wakkerstroom-West until the area is safe to access for emergency repairs.
Nkqubela has been declared a red zone, with emergency and municipal services unable to access the area.
“Patients can be brought outside the red zone to meet the emergency vehicles on standby. The Robertson Main Road (Voortrekker Street, R60) is open for traffic. SAPS and traffic officers are visible on the road and the normal traffic flow.”
“Community organisations and residents wanting to help with donations towards the affected families can contact the Humanitarian Support Organisation: Elaine Harrison at 084 504 2199, firstname.lastname@example.org,” the mayor said.
Western Cape police said that Public Order Police (POP) have been deployed and continue to monitor the situation. They have also advised against spreading fake news on social media after videos and social media reports claimed that individuals died and children were hacked during the clashes.