Cape Town city. Picture: THINKSTOCK
Cape Town city. Picture: THINKSTOCK

Unrest in the Cape Town suburb of Philippi is harming businesses‚ the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry warned on Friday.

"Philippi is burning — are the authorities playing the fiddle like Nero did when Rome burnt?" chamber president Janine Myburgh said.

Myburgh said land invasions and forced removals had led to violence that forced businesses to close. Protesters were "wreaking havoc" on private property‚ Myburgh said‚ noting there were several business premises "currently on fire".

Local and national government had turned a blind eye to the issue‚ Myburgh said‚ and the issues were not new. In May‚ the chamber said crime‚ traffic chaos‚ pollution and land invasions had forced some Philippi East businesses to consider closing or moving.

At the time‚ the chamber said land invasions had brought more people to the area and the City of Cape Town had not responded to complaints about chaotic traffic and refuse. Hijackings‚ shootings‚ break-ins and tyre-burning were becoming common‚ the chamber warned‚ and the situation was getting worse.

"We have reports that our members cannot get to work to pay wages‚" Myburgh said on Friday. "This is particularly distressing as these employees often live pay-cheque to pay-cheque‚ which means that some families will go without food this weekend."

Myburgh called on authorities to help deal with the dire situation. "The economy is challenging enough without the inability of the authorities to provide a secure environment in which to work and live‚" she said.