Road damaged in protest

2016-03-01 06:00
A group of about 30 protesters burnt and destroyed robots along Jakes Gerwel Drive. They also dug up cables and burnt rubble and portable toilets last Wednesday morning.  PHOTO: SAmantha Lee

A group of about 30 protesters burnt and destroyed robots along Jakes Gerwel Drive. They also dug up cables and burnt rubble and portable toilets last Wednesday morning. PHOTO: SAmantha Lee

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Last week saw two days of volatile protests, with roads only reopened to traffic on Thursday.

Following protests by Siqalo residents last Tuesday night, police closed Jakes Gerwel Drive between Morgenster Road and the R300 as protesters barricaded the road with burning portable toilets, rubble and bricks.

It is believed the group was protesting about employment agreements.

Protests subsided by midnight, police confirm, and the roads were reopened.

On Wednesday morning, a second group of about 25 joined the protest, demanding a list of services from the City of Cape Town. Police and other law enforcement agencies closed the road again. This caused major traffic delays.

With the second day having turned volatile, Colonel Dennis Abels, Philippi police station commander, and his management contacted all parties involved and visited Siqalo informal settlement to address residents’ issues.

The protest was ended peacefully and no arrests were made.

It is believed the second group consisted of opportunists, who saw a chance to vandalise property, as police confirm the first group protested peacefully.

The first group remained close to the R300 while the other group destroyed robots and road surfaces and dug up and burned robot cables.

“The community has informed the City that they are unhappy with one of the sub-contractors providing sanitation services in the area. This follows a dispute between the company and its employees.

“The City’s water and sanitation department received these complaints [last Tuesday] and is currently interrogating the allegations. We will determine appropriate action once the investigation concludes,” says Ernest Sonnenberg, Mayco member for utility services.

The investigation is still underway and a meeting between City representatives and residents will soon be held.

“At this stage, we are still assessing the damage. We can confirm that a City vehicle was damaged by stone-throwing protestors. There was also some damage to a traffic light control box. The Metro Police gang and drug task team recorded footage of the vandalism and we are hopeful that this will help track down the culprits. We will also need to assess the road surface for damage as a result of burning tyres and debris,” says JP Smith, Mayco member for safety and security.

Last year, the City spent millions repairing robots along the road after another protest.

“These damages force the City to spend money on repairs that would otherwise have gone towards infrastructure development. These vandals are effectively stealing resources from the poor,” says Smith.

Police will address policing issues in a scheduled meeting with Siqalo residents later this week.

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