Census officials will hold an urgent meeting on Monday to discuss a spate of violent attacks against enumerators.
Stats SA provincial manager and census co-ordinator Marius Cronjé confirmed three attacks and said the safety of enumerators was a major concern.
“Due to severe gang activity in the Manenberg area we pulled our workers out on Friday. We are constantly in contact with the police in the area about the safety of our workers. They will return once we have word from police that the area is safe,” he said.
About 120 000 Stats SA field workers, dressed in yellow bibs and carrying official ID cards, went out to start the census on October 10.
The urgent meeting was requested after three enumerators in Cape Town were attacked in separate incidents while on duty on Friday.
In the first incident, a census worker was caught up in a domestic altercation in the City Bowl.
Another worker lodged a complaint of attempted rape at the Gugulethu Police Station on Friday night and another was caught in a gang shooting in Manenberg.
The enumerators were not seriously injured but were offered counselling, Cronjé said. “All the enumerators have indicated that they want to return to work this week, but we may move them to a different area.”
Cronjé said enumerators were required to go out at different times, depending on the area they worked in, but were encouraged to be out of the field before 10pm. “They are encouraged to go out in groups while working in high-risk areas or at night, but they do the surveys individually. There isn’t much we can do to protect them besides keeping in contact with police in the area to advise us of any danger.”
Police spokesman Andre Traut said he would only be able to provide information on Monday.
In a tweet on Friday evening, Premier Helen Zille expressed her concern.
She tweeted: “Several attacks against census enumerators over the last 24 hours. Attempted robbery, shootings, assault. Tragic. Look after counters.”