Kya Sands protest not political - DA

2012-03-26 14:38
Video

Kya Sands protests

2012-03-26 13:38

Residents of Kya Sands, north of Johannesburg, are tired of waiting for houses. During their protest they blocked roads and burned tyres. WATCH

Johannesburg - A protest in Kya Sands which resulted in the barricading of roads on Monday was not political, the area's DA ward councillor said.

"I don't want to believe that this is political, I want to separate this from politics," Matome Mafokwane said from the scene on Malibongwe Drive, in northern Johannesburg.

On Wednesday residents staged a mini protest in the area, and agreed to suspend their demonstrations until a meeting could be held on Monday night between councillors and residents.

Mafokwane said he was not sure what had sparked the renewed protests.

"Obviously something must have happened," he said.

Relocation

The possible relocation of residents from an informal "mini-settlement" at Inadan to the greater Kya Sands informal settlement was the initial reason given for the protest.

This apparently escalated into demands for housing and basic utilities.

"It started with one grievance, now it's packing on top with others," Mafokwane said.

Lieutenant Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said the protesters blocked Malibongwe Drive around 05:00.

No injuries were reported and the crowd was peaceful. Police were monitoring the situation.

Dlamini said the protesters were expected to disperse once a housing official addressed them. It was not clear when this would be, or who the official was.

A spokesperson for the informal settlement dwellers, Ephraim Lifuwas, said employers were likely to bear the brunt of the protest as workers were unable to get to work.

The intention was to pressurise the government into yielding to their demands.

"Build houses. That is what we need," he said.

Regarding the relocation of residents, Mafokwane said normally, a decision was made on an issue only after departments had given councillors a detailed brief, and feedback had been obtained from the community.

Even he, as a councillor, was not sure of the situation regarding the relocation, he said.

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

"A meeting was secured for tonight, 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."

ANC controls resources

Mafokwane said that although the Democratic Alliance controlled the ward politically, the African National Congress-run council controlled the resources.

A housing department spokesperson was not immediately available to comment.

Mafokwane said a group of Gauteng government officials had arrived at the scene 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 Sands 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 a protest at a church in Evaton, that appeared to be connected to allegations of satanism, the other protests were intended to draw attention to housing, water, electricity and education complaints.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa visited the site of protests in the farming area of Heidelberg last week. The ANC urged people to be patient with the government's pace of installing utilities and providing housing.

The Kya Sands informal settlement was established in the last two decades on a tract of land originally surrounded by farms and agricultural holdings.

Since then it has changed into a light industrial and retail zone.

- Are you there? Send us your eyewitness accounts and photos.
Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  johannesburg  |  protests  |  politics  |  service delivery

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