Community leaders' houses set alight in Hout Bay protest

2017-07-20 17:56
Imizamo Yethu. (Robin Thuynsma)

Imizamo Yethu. (Robin Thuynsma)

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Privileged Hout Bay residents share their experience living in an informal settlement

2017-07-18 11:30

Five households from the Hout Bay valley swapped their privilege and moved a short distance away to cold, tiny 3x3m shacks for the weekend. The shacks are home to victims of the Imizamo Yethu inferno. Watch for more. WATCH

Cape Town - Protesters in Imizamo Yethu, Hout Bay, burnt down the houses of two community leaders on Thursday afternoon during ongoing protest action in the area.  

Western Cape police said protesters also threw petrol bombs and stones at officers on Thursday morning when authorities tried to clear 52 illegally constructed structures.

Community worker Kenny Tokwe told News24 that he was at the local ANC branch when he was informed that his and another community leader's houses have been set alight.

Tokwe was unaware of the extent of damage to his property and blamed "a small group of people against development" for ongoing violence in the area.

"I am now most concerned about my children, who are traumatised. I need to keep my family safe," he said.

A court order was granted to the City of Cape Town in June for structures to be cleared, in order to make way for the construction of basic services in the area, following a fire in March which destroyed an estimated 4 500 structures.

Western Cape police spokesperson FC van Wyk told News24 that rubber bullets were fired during an altercation with community members.

He said a case of public violence had been opened. No injuries have been reported.

Following the devastating fire in March, several protests occurred in the area over the slow pace of reconstruction by the City of Cape Town.

'We are sick and tired of waiting'

In July, violent protests were sparked by dismal living conditions in the temporary three-by-three-metre corrugated iron structures that residents were moved into following the blaze.

"When it’s raining, the rain is coming in these three-by-three shacks. Me, I’m staying [with] five [people] in that three-by-three," community leader Nosicelo Mtakatana told News24 at the time.

"That thing [the shacks] is not nice because sometimes we don’t have electricity [and] we are using paraffin. That paraffin is affecting our kids.

"The problem why we are doing this, our kids are sick there because it’s cold. It’s not nice, we are sick and tired of waiting."

On Thursday, Mayor Patricia de Lille's spokesperson, Zara Nicholson, said the evictions were necessary to allow super-blocking to be completed in the area.

Super-blocking is a process where roads are established in informal settlements to ensure basic services and emergency vehicles can easily access the area.

"The city condemns any ensuing violence, as it will go against the spirit of this negotiated process," she said.

* This story has been updated to reflect that Kenny Tokwe is a community worker and not an ANC Councillor. 

Read more on:    cape town  |  service delivery  |  protests
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