Protesters nabbed

2019-04-16 06:00
The blocks of flats at Edward Road in Ottery is packed with backyard dwellers as they wait for houses. PHOTOS: Nomzamo Yuku

The blocks of flats at Edward Road in Ottery is packed with backyard dwellers as they wait for houses. PHOTOS: Nomzamo Yuku

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After residents of Ottery took to the streets again yesterday morning (15 April) eight people (four men and four women) were arrested for various crimes including damage to property and public violence.

They were arrested at the protest on Strandfontein and Varkensvlei Roads, following several days of unrest where residents barricaded the roads with burning tyres and other objects.

On Thursday last week, residents illegally occupied a piece of land on Edward Road opposite the Bruce Civic Centre and erected house structures. However, the structures were demolished by the City’s law enforcement agencies. The residents had earlier threatened to illegally occupy the land, forcing the City to obtain a court interdict on Friday 5 April. Residents say they decided to invade the land after Mayor Dan Plato allegedly failed to deliver on his promise to visit the area and witness their housing concerns. According to residents, Plato was meant to return to Ottery and give feedback from a previous meeting. During his visit to Parkwood on Sunday 7 April, Plato announced that he would come back for a feedback, but had not done so. Community leaders were informed by his office that his visit was postponed to tomorrow (17 April).

Grassy Park Police Station commander, colonel Dawood Laing says police will not tolerate any form of bad behaviour from the public or damage to any infrastructure including schools and roads in the already neglected area. “Currently money is being spent on damaged infrastructures whereas it could have been spent on upliftment in our area. Our children are the one’s that are suffering as a result of the back-log and individuals want to damage the little they have,” he said.

The situation in the area was tense until the arrests were made.

However, angry residents vowed to continue fighting for housing until the officials attend to their issues and said they will occupy an old school building across the land they were removed from. Some of them started moving in to the school premises on Thursday evening and out of frustration, started building shacks in the open space.

Wade Mathews one of the community leaders said: “We have heard promises and the Mayor lied to us again. People are living under uncomfortable situations which we wanted him to see for himself. We cannot wait for something that we’re not sure if it is going to happen or not.”V Continued on page 2.

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