Dakota residents demand services

2015-04-22 00:00

RESIDENTS of a Durban informal settlement have vowed to use ­violence until their voices are heard and demands met for housing and electricity.

And the local ward councillor has thrown his support behind their protest action saying their needs have long been overlooked.

The nearly 30-year-old Dakota informal settlement in Isipingo went on a mass protest on Ernest Clockie Road yesterday.

One community leader, Dumisani Mhlongo, was later arrested in front of The Witness for allegedly “throwing a petrol bomb”.

“I have been here since 1996. Every election year we are told we will get proper housing and electricity but it never happens. Our children are not safe here — it is filthy, it floods when it rains, our illegal power connections lie exposed in the grass. People cannot live like this. One of our children will die,” said Mhlongo.

Dakota resident Donovan Govindsamy said they have only one set of toilets “for the entire settlement”.

“Our children are suffering. And instead of our calls being heard the police beat us. We just want houses and a better life.”

Over 500 people live in the settlement.

On a brief tour before Mhlongo’s arrest he showed The Witness how they illegally connected power with large tracts exposed and sparking in some instances.

“The authorities come and confiscate the cabling but almost immediately a group goes out, finds new ­cables and bring it back to reconnect. We have to do this. You cannot exist without electricity. We are even prepared to pay,” said Mhlongo.

He said appeals had been made to the city council for pre-paid meters.

Local councillor Soonilall Kalicharan, while calling for calm, said: “I don’t blame them for coming out and venting their anger as they feel ­neglected.”

The SAPS deployed both riot ­police and the SAPS helicopter to monitor the settlement. At least two people were arrested.

KZN SAPS spokesperson Major Thulani Zwane confirmed that at least 100 protesters had closed the road yesterday calling it a “peaceful protest”. “No property was damaged and there have been no injuries. We urge all community members to engage with the municipality about their grievances,” said Zwane.

In a separate protest in Mariannhill he said about 1 000 community members also participated in a ­service delivery protest yesterday morning.

“They closed off the roads and they were also burning tyres,” said Zwane.

eThekwini Municipality Mayor James Nxumalo condemned the ­vandalism of municipal property in Mariannhill and tasked law enforcement agencies to “hunt down the ­perpetrators of this unlawful act”.

• jonathan.erasmus@witness.co.za

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