Mixed emotions for Mayor’s visit

2019-04-23 06:01
Mayor Dan Plato visited residents in Ottery.

Mayor Dan Plato visited residents in Ottery.

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City of Cape Town’s mayor, Dan Plato’s visit in Ottery was met with mixed emotions on Wednesday 17 April.

His arrival clashed with the release of eight residents that were arrested for various crimes including damage to property and public violence on Monday 15 April (“Protesters nabbed”, People’s Post, April 16). They were arrested during the protest at Strandfontein and Varkensvlei Roads, following several days of unrest where residents barricaded the roads with burning tyres and other objects. They were all released on bail.

The five-day protest started after the residents erected illegal structures when Plato failed to fulfil a promise of visiting the community. Structures were then demolished by the City’s law enforcement agencies on Thursday 11 April. Some residents had illegally occupied a piece of land on Edward Road opposite the Bruce Civic Centre and erected house structures. However, the City had obtained a court interdict on Friday 5 April after residents had earlier threatened to illegally occupy the land.

Plato was honouring his long-awaited promise to go and investigate the living conditions as per reported by the community.

He was joined by residents on a walkabout at Ottery A and B when the angry residents allegedly “gate-crashed” the visit and “threatened” the mayor, wanting answers concerning his delay, arrests and plans for the community.

According to Shanaaz Sulaiman-Davids, chairperson of Ottery Neighbourhood Watch/Safety Watch, the walkabout on Ottery A side was done peacefully and without any incidents. The chaos only started at Ottery B side.

“While we were visiting one of the gardens in the area a group of people loudly approached us and their entourage was screaming and shouting obscenities,” Sulaiman-Davids says. Plato completed his walkabout by addressing the angry residents asking them to “refrain from obscenities, but they just kept on threatening us with physical violence.”

Plato says, “I went on a walkabout of the area to engage residents about housing concerns following recent protests in the area. There are ongoing discussions and I indicated to residents that I would keep community leaders informed about the issues raised and would return in coming weeks.”

Pastor Paul Philips, a community leader says though they think “we are down, we are not out. Your bias approach and handling of our people and leaders is noted.”

He voiced their disappointment regarding how the situation was handled and thanked everyone who supported those who were arrested and contributed towards paying for the bail.

“Victory – almost! The so-called coloured people’s spirit will prevail above all your attempts,” Phillips concludes.

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