Anger over no response

2019-03-26 06:01
Prince George Drive was brought to a standstill on Wednesday 20 March after renewed protests flared up in Parkwood. PHOTO: Earl Haupt

Prince George Drive was brought to a standstill on Wednesday 20 March after renewed protests flared up in Parkwood. PHOTO: Earl Haupt

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Renewed protests flared up in Parkwood on Wednesday 20 March afternoon, ramping up into the evening as backyard residents in the area expressed their displeasure with the lack of response from the Western Cape department of human settlements.

Children were seen wheeling out old tyres, setting them alight while throwing stones and rocks at traffic lights as police and other law enforcement authorities looked on.The fire department was called in to put out the flames as crowds were initially dispersed. However, police had to show a little more force later that evening and stun grenades were fired in an effort to diffuse the situation.

Initial housing protests started last year, which eventually resulted in backyard residents in Parkwood being told that a resolution would be sought after Western Cape minister for human settlements Bonginkosi Madikizela visited the area to witness the poor living conditions for backyarders.

At the time, Madikizela said he understood the concerns of the angry residents. “I understood the reason why you took the action that you took. It is true that some of the protests in the city and in the province are politically motivated, but some of the protests are coming from people with genuine concerns.

“That is why it is very important not for us as politicians to just dismiss the protests and think that they are politically motivated. It became very clear to me that the people of Parkwood have genuine concerns,” he said at the time.

However, violence was triggered last week after a group of leaders from areas which include Parkwood visited the offices of human settlement in Wale Street, in Cape Town, to follow up on the progress of their request for housing.

Leaders from Ottery, Retreat and Vrygrond were also present to lend their support as they too have received little feedback from Madikizela.

“Alan Winde came and had a conversation with us and he noted the people’s concerns. He talked to Bonginkosi (Madikizela) and he said he (Madikizela) will engage with us in half an hour. An hour transpired, he didn’t pitch, so the people left, and they are going back to their constituents and decisions will be made as to how to get Madikizela back on grassroots level to the communities. This is a response to the non-response of the department of human settlement,” says Parkwood community leader Paul Phillips.

Meanwhile, head of communications at the provincial department of human settlements Nathan Adriaanse says the group who protested at their offices arrived without prior notice.

“Minister Madikizela was already committed to a prior engagement. The provincial department of human settlements has a priority project which is called the Greater Retreat Project which includes the following areas Parkwood, Grassy Park, Ottery, Lavender Hill, Steenberg, Retreat and Sea Winds,” confirms Adriaanse.

He adds the department of human settlements started this process in Parkwood and their last meeting was in December last year where they provided a full status update to the community.

“At this meeting, we agreed to have ward- based community meetings and these meetings took place in February. In terms of progress made to date, the department has identified vacant parcels of land and our full professional team is looking at the viability of these land parcels.”

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