Fire victims protest for housing

2017-07-04 06:00
Imizamo Yethu residents took to the streets this weekend in a service delivery protest.PHOTOS: Facebook

Imizamo Yethu residents took to the streets this weekend in a service delivery protest.PHOTOS: Facebook

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Protests in Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay continued for the third consecutive day yesterday, affecting access routes.

City of Cape Town officials allege this makes it clear that it is no longer a matter of community protest but criminality.

The protest started on Saturday. Protesters moved to Penzance Estate yesterday morning, damaging cars.

Zara Nicholson, spokesperson of the mayor, says when the residents embarked on protest action roads were blocked off and tyres and informal structures set alight. There were also reports of vehicles being stoned and police members being attacked.

“As a result of the protest, a set of traffic signals was damaged. Some of the poles and road signs were set alight and vandalised.

JP Smith, Mayco member for safety and security and social services, says the situation has become very serious.

“Protesters moved into Penzance Estate and overturned cars and smashed windows. The City’s law enforcement and disaster management mobile unit, which they used as kitchens for the victims of fire at the sports field, has been completely destroyed. The City has called on police officers and others to intervene urgently and to ensure that arrests are made, that people are detained and prosecution happens.”

Residents took to the street to call on City officials to act on promises to provide better housing and electricity on the interim site following a devastating fire in March.

The fire left four people dead and thousands others homeless. Victims of the fire were moved to a temporary site whilst officials were going to start “super blocking” the affected areas.

Despite the sound of desperation from the residents, officials maintain they are fully committed to working with the residents to rebuild their lives.

“We condemn the violent and destructive manner in which the protests unfolded. We cannot condone the violence as we need to work together to rebuild our communities, not break them down,” Nicholson says.

She says City officials are working day in and out and have spent millions of rands on the reblocking project and to resettle the community but laments that residents are not always giving their full ­cooperation.

“We appeal to the community to work with us and not to resort to destructive action,” she says.

Provincial police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Andrè Traut confirms that the protest action flared up yesterday morning for the third consecutive day.

“Police officers have deployed a sufficient number of members from public order policing, the stabilisation unit and visible policing to maintain law and order and to police the situation effectively. We are working closely with our law enforcement agencies to quell the situation and to restore tranquillity to the area.

“Our deployments will remain in the area until we are satisfied that the threat to the area has been alleviated.

“We urge the community to exercise caution in the close proximity of the group of protesters.”

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