Peaceful picketers for ‘proper housing’

2018-05-15 06:01
Parkwood residents from the Voice of Parkwood group marched to a vacant piece of land on Saturday.

Parkwood residents from the Voice of Parkwood group marched to a vacant piece of land on Saturday.

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Convenor of the Voice of Parkwood, Pastor Paul Phillips, has local authorities in his sights after a series of peaceful protests over the last few weekends.

Phillips and his civic group mobilised residents to have a “ceremonial taking of land” after meeting with backyarders and those on the housing waiting list.

“We had a ceremonial taking of land in Parkwood on Saturday. We had a group there to picket and put in a few pegs ceremonially. It was not a land grab or occupation. That is why we had a ceremony, to make a statement and bring the message across to say that there is a real need for housing in Parkwood.

“We can’t just forever fight crime and gangsterism, because that is only part of solving the problems. Lack of proper housing is a contributing factor towards the decay and breakdown of our communities,” says Phillips.

He feels the community is not being heard and the only way to get attention is to protest. He says conventional means of engagement either delay progress or are ignored.

“All the red tape, but in the meantime all the blood is flowing and all the other negative things happen around us. That is the only way that we know of how we are going to get attention, through protest,” he says.

Phillips adds that the peaceful protests started with a march to the M5 to address safety concerns in Parkwood Estate, resulting in a picket outside Grassy Park Police Station two weeks ago.

“We had a meeting with the station commander on Wednesday. They are committed to meeting most of the six demands that we have made. One was that they should immediately bring in more manpower. They are establishing a special unit, specifically to operate in Parkwood. We also asked them to look at their crime intelligence. We also addressed ill discipline of police officers and their involvement in unethical behaviour. They support the breakdown in the relationship between the community and the police. It has been reported to the higher ranks and they are busy with an investigation into officers who are abusing sick leave or come to work drunk,” explains Phillips.

Station commander of Grassy Park Police Station, Lieutenant Colonel Christiaan Esau says understands the residents’ concerns.

“Two points we sorted out and the other three points we are still working on. We are committed to the deployment of (extra) vehicles. We will have the one vehicle in the area on a 24-hour basis. The crime prevention units will attend to all gang incidents and complaints in the area. We will meet with the leaders once a month. Once a quarter we will have a meeting with the greater community,” he says.

Other demands included a satellite police station in the area and evicting drug lords from City of Cape Town rental units.

“There are already cases on those houses and already illegal activity happening there which is on record. They must talk to the justice department so that the process can be escalated. If we can get the drug houses and the drug lords at least, then we will be making big strides. We are going to eliminate those elements out of the community,” says Phillips.

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