Misinformation fuelled violent protest in Imizamo Yethu – community worker

2017-07-21 20:00
Community worker Kenny Tokwe and his family visiting his burnt down house on Friday (Supplied)

Community worker Kenny Tokwe and his family visiting his burnt down house on Friday (Supplied)

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Privileged Hout Bay residents share their experience living in an informal settlement

2017-07-18 11:30

Five households from the Hout Bay valley swapped their privilege and moved a short distance away to cold, tiny 3x3m shacks for the weekend. The shacks are home to victims of the Imizamo Yethu inferno. Watch for more. WATCH

Cape Town – Misinformation about evictions in Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay, Cape Town fuelled violent protests in the community on Thursday, community worker Kenny Tokwe said on Friday.

On Thursday morning, petrol bombs and stones were thrown at police officers.

Tokwe's house and that of another community leader were set alight when authorities tried to clear 52 illegally constructed structures.

Tokwe, employed as an Imizamo Yethu community development worker by the Western Cape provincial government, said residents who fear super blocking taking place in the area spread the rumours which sparked protest when authorities arrived.

Super-blocking is a process where roads are established in informal settlements to ensure basic services and emergency vehicles can easily access the area.

"I am not angry [at the people who burnt down my house], but I'm worried that the misinformation they have been receiving is stalling development. This is dangerous for a better Imizamo Yethu, to spread rumours is like playing with fire," Tokwe told News24.

"Imizamo Yethu needs super-blocking to take place. Super-blocking brings with it running water and sanitation."

Tokwe said only vacant buildings were cleared on Thursday and that it is unclear where the rumour started that occupied buildings would be demolished.

"[From now on] we will be addressing community members regularly to ensure that they are always informed about the next steps in development," he said.

Trauma 

Tokwe said his entire home was destroyed after it was set alight and is currently staying with friends.

"My children will have to live with the trauma, but I am at least happy that community members will soon start receiving services enshrined in our Constitution like water and sanitation."

In a statement on Thursday afternoon, City of Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille thanked Tokwe and other community leaders for "demonstrating true leadership" and helping the city "realise progress in Imizamo Yethu". She condemned a "small group of residents" for inciting protest in the community.

"This small group has once again derailed progress by inciting violent action and spreading malicious rumours among community members, causing tensions to flare up," she said.

"Inaccurate and grossly misleading reports have again been spread in the community that people will be moved out of Imizamo Yethu. This is not the case."

De Lille said the city already has an interdict in place against one of the group leaders. "These violent, selfish actions of a few are causing painful delays," she said.

Following a blaze in Imizamo Yethu in March, several protests occurred in the area over the slow pace of reconstruction by the City of Cape Town.

At the beginning of July, violent protests were sparked by dismal living conditions in the temporary three-by-three-metre corrugated iron structures that residents were moved into following the blaze.

Protest action ended when an agreement was reached between community leaders and the City of Cape Town where the city promised to speed-up super-blocking.

In a statement at the time, De Lille said she has personally prioritised development in the area and community members will always have a direct line to her.

Read more on:    cape town  |  protests

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