It started as a peaceful service delivery and housing protest in Laingville, St Helena Bay, last week, but tempers flared after 11- year-old Leo Williams was shot in the head.

The community blames the police for the shooting.

The young victim is still fighting for his life in the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town. The situation in Laingville has calmed down but protests spilled over into neighbouring fishing communities.

The people of the usually quiet fishing community of Stompneus Bay who have lived in the area for generations say they have had enough.

Protesters were back on the streets on Tuesday. “We are here to show the government that we are very serious and we want houses. We have been here for generations and we are calling to government, ‘this land over here and over there belongs to the factory and we want answers.’ Whose land is it really? Is it the government’s? We want answers and we want to build our houses,” says community member, Pieter van der Horst.

Laingville residents say they feel that the government has been neglecting them: 

The majority of community members work in fishing factories. They want to keep their close-knit families together and are not too keen on outsiders.

“The whole west coast is starting to burn. It’s a direct result of people coming from elsewhere and what we are saying as a community is that we are sick and tired of this. The west coast is becoming a dumping site for people coming from elsewhere,” says Chief of the Cochoqwa people, Atmore Rodgers.

The road closures left many people stranded. Farmers opened their land for emergency travel.

A desperate plea has been made to the Saldana Bay Municipality leadership to intervene and find an amicable solution.