Kya Sand grievances growing – councillor

2012-03-26 11:02

Plans to move people as well as demands for housing and basic utilities may be behind the protests at Kya Sand informal settlement near Randburg.

Early yesterday morning, residents of the settlement blocked roads and erected barricades of burning tyres.

“It started with one grievance, now it’s packing on top with others,” Democratic Alliance councillor Matome Mafokwane said from the scene on Malibongwe drive, north of Johannesburg.

Residents had protested last week because they had heard government intended moving a “mini-settlement” of about 60 families from municipal land in nearby Inadan, to the greater Kya Sand area.

Mafokwane said that during a similar protest in Kya Sand last Wednesday, he told protesters there was nothing official or formal about the planned relocation.

However, people had been “fed” different stories, and had become agitated.

Mafokwane said even he was not completely sure what the situation was regarding the relocation.

“I’m in the face of this protest. I need to give them answers, but even I don’t know what is going on.”

Normally, a decision was made only after departments had given councillors a detailed brief, and feedback had been obtained from the community.

Mafokwane said councillors and residents were to have met last night.

“[But] now the situation has overtaken us, and we are talking about a big crowd wanting answers now. It’s no longer about the move; it’s now about water, housing, sanitation,” he said.

Although the DA controlled the ward, the African National Congress-run council controlled the resources, he said.

A housing department spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Mafokwane said a group of Gauteng government officials had arrived and would address the protesters.

“Leaving aside whether the protest is legal or illegal, their concerns are legitimate; they are valid, make no mistake,” he said.

The Kya Sand protest is the latest in a number of protests around the country in the past 10 days, including protests in Heidelberg in Gauteng, and Hangberg in the Western Cape.

Apart from one protest that appears connected to allegations of Satanism at a church in Evaton, the others have to do with access to housing, water, electricity and education.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa visited the site of protests in the farming area of Heidelberg last week.

The ANC has urged people to be patient with the government’s pace of installing utilities and providing housing.

The Kya Sand informal settlement was established in the past two decades, on a tract of land that was originally surrounded by farms and agricultural holdings.

The area has rapidly changed into an industrial and retail zone.

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