Simanyene residents erupt

2018-07-05 06:01
Protesters prevented the driver from taking a break. PHOTOS: Velani Ludidi

Protesters prevented the driver from taking a break. PHOTOS: Velani Ludidi

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Irate residents of Simanyene informal settlement went on a rampage on Wednesday 27 June, closing Onverwacht Road with burning tyres and rubbish in protest after they apparently woke up in flooded homes the previous day (Tuesday 26 June).

They claimed the canal near their houses was blocked, leading to the flooding of their homes.

“If the canal was cleared as we have been requesting [of the City of Cape Town], we would not be walking through water in our houses,” said an angry Noxolo Silala.

Following several service delivery protests in the area over the last two months, council sent in its workers to clear the canal.

Last Wednesday, a worker was operating a digger loader and clearing the canal. After a few hours, the operator wanted to take a break, but the residents would not allow him to do so.

They jumped onto the machine, instructing the driver to continue working. “If we let him go, he won’t come back,” one resident said. “We don’t trust him,” said another. After another excavating vehicle arrived to clear the canal, they finally let the driver leave.

Fura Manzi, a member of the local street committee, said if the municipality had heeded their calls to clear the canal this unfortunate incident would not have occurred. “We had to force them to do the right thing,” he said. “It was unfortunate that we had to hold the driver back, but we are tired of living in water.”

In May, City Vision reported on a community meeting that discussed the removal of shacks, which prevented excavating vehicles from entering the area (“Vendors’ stalls to be demolished”, 31 May). But after the structures were removed no progress was made on cleaning the canal, something which further angered residents.

The canal was eventually cleared, with council workers working until late on Wednesday evening to complete the job.

Anda Ntsodo, Mayoral Committee Member for Area East, said the City respects the community’s right to protest or picket, as long as it is done peacefully. “The Roads and Stormwater Department is aware that the canal along Onverwacht Road needs to be cleaned as a result of the illegal dumping,” he acknowledged.

“We are currently busy with cleaning the canal. On Wednesday 27 June, the community refused to let the operator leave until the excavator arrived on site. The excavator arrived on site at 14:30 and worked until 18:30. The department is currently in the process of procuring additional machinery to assist with the cleaning of the canal.”

Illegal dumping is the main cause of the blockages in the canal, Ntsodo explained. “Residents are therefore encouraged to refrain from disposing waste in the canal,” he said. Richard Coleman, spokesperson for council’s Traffic Services, confirmed a protest had taken place on Wednesday. “There was a service delivery protest action in Onverwacht Road. The road was closed to traffic on both sides as protesters burnt tyres and rubbish to block access to the area.”

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