The city that makes you homeless on World Homeless Day

2013-10-14 14:30

S’bu Sithole and James Nxumalo, the cats who are running Durban, must be smoking whoonga from the smack dealers plying their trade in Albany Grove across the road from their rather pleasant offices at City Hall.

How else do you explain the city manager and mayor calling a press conference to brief the media on their campaign to bulldoze shacks, and leave even more of Durban’s estimated 410 000 residents who live in informal settlements homeless, on World Homeless Day?

I’m not joking. Or maybe they’re at the rocks. Either way, this lot have to be off their faces. They can’t be so dumb and insensitive – in an election year nogal – without some kind of chemical intervention.

Early in the week, the spin teams that work for our city’s sensitive leaders went into motion. They had been kinda quiet for almost two months. Lotsa drivel about the Durban Business Fair and other exciting events. Fokol about the Land Invasions Unit’s illegal demolition of shacks in Cato Crest, its violation of a series of court orders and the wave of violent protests they kicked off.

It’s amazing how people respond when you drive a big bastard of a bulldozer through their houses.

Anyway, the city spinners got spinning.

“The Mayor, Councillor James Nxumalo invites members of the media to attend a media briefing to discuss the Human Settlements Programme and to clarify issues surrounding the Cato Crest unrest and land invasions. The Municipality wishes to clear the misconceptions regarding the court order and demolishing of shacks in Cato Crest and other areas in the City.

“DATE: Thursday, 10 October 2013 TIME: 11h00 VENUE: City Hall, EXCO Boardroom’’ reads the first of around 20 emails that landed in my inbox.

The city’s like that. Seven different spin muppets mail you. They send each mail twice. Or four times. They must get paid per email or something. Then each muppet calls you to see if you’re coming.

So these mails land. I can’t believe my eyes. My mind starts to boggle at the irony of the situation. Then I start to get pissed off at the arrogance of it all. Then I realise this will be a great opportunity for me to be briefed on the city’s human settlements programme. It might open my eyes. And all that.

Thursday morning, I’m up bright and early. Amped for my education in how the city cares for its homeless. I open my mail. There’s a flurry of mails from the city. The briefing’s off. Somewhere in the depths of City Hall somebody got wind that the rest of the world was looking at how to help the homeless rather than smash what shelter they have.

It’s weird. James and S’bu are my generation. I’m old enough to remember apartheid demolitions around the city. So are they. It looks like they’ve forgotten.

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