eThekwini mayor condemns violent protests by shack dwellers

2017-07-07 21:29
(Amanda Khoza, News24)

(Amanda Khoza, News24)

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Durban – eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede has strongly condemned the destruction of public and private property during protests.

She was reacting to the two-day protest by Abahlali baseMjondolo members who blockaded roads around Durban with burning tyres and tree logs while throwing stones at passing motorists.

Protesters associated with the shack dwellers movement set a municipal bus alight in Mayville on Friday.

Talk to residents

“While we respect people’s rights to protest as enshrined in our Bill of Rights, we caution against illegal marches that often end up with the destruction of property,” she said. 

Gumede added that she was willing to talk to residents about their demands.

Abahlali alleged that the protests were sparked by Gumede’s “ignorance”.

They claimed the period they had given her to respond to their grievances lapsed on Wednesday following their march on Monday, June 26.

Abahlali’s executive committee member Blessing Nyuswa confirmed to News24 on Friday that their members were involved in Friday’s protests.

“The protests will continue until the mayor engages with the leaders of Abahlali. She must come to our offices with something tangible and then maybe the protests will stop,” she said.

Demolish shacks

She said what angers them the most was that when they marched to the Durban City Hall last week, she was not there to receive their memorandum.

“Her spokesperson, (Mthunzi) Gumede [no relation] has recently claimed that she was out of town when we marched to the City Hall. Now that she is in town, why has she not engaged with us?” asked Nyuswa.

Nyuswa said while the municipality wants the movement to wait until it studies their memorandum of grievances, the municipality this week continued to evict people from their shacks in Cato Manor.

“What hurts the most is that they don’t just demolish shacks but they also burn people’s belongings such as furniture and clothes,” she claimed.

She said their members were involved in Friday’s protests in areas including Umlazi, Mayville and Cato Manor.

Two protesters were arrested for public violence in Sydenham on Thursday after a group of protesters blockaded roads with burning tyres.

Improve services

The Democratic Alliance in eThekwini also said it was “extremely concerned” by Gumede’s “deafening silence” amid the violent protests.

Martin Meyer, DA eThekwini whip for human settlements and infrastructure, said Gumede’s indifference to the plight of poor residents meant that she had reneged on the oath she took to serve all the city’s residents. 

“The city cannot continue on its current path of ignoring the poor and vulnerable,” said Meyer.

In the previous financial year, more than half the budget allocated to upgrade and improve services in informal settlements was not used, the DA alleged.

“This is unacceptable and a mockery to residents who continue to live under inhumane conditions,” Meyer said.

KZN police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane said the municipal bus that was set alight in Mayville was empty.

“A case of public violence has been opened, but no arrests have been made,” he said. 

Read more on:    abahlali basemjondolo  |  zandile gumede  |  durban  |  service delivery

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