Burning barricades reignite Gugulethu rezoning row

2017-05-10 13:30
Protest action underway in Gugulethu. (Zukile Daniel, News24)

Protest action underway in Gugulethu. (Zukile Daniel, News24)

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WATCH: Gugulethu roads burn as residents protest

2017-05-10 09:25

Residents in Gugulethu, Cape Town, say they were promised a community hall, an old age home, a park and a satellite police station. Protests broke out on Wednesday morning after fed-up residents blamed the DA for non-delivery.WATCH

Cape Town - A large portion of Gugulethu, Cape Town, was cordoned off with burning barricades on Wednesday, in a protest over a decades-old rezoning dispute with its roots in apartheid-era political violence.

Police arrived to monitor the groups fuelling the barricades of planks and tyres in a radius which includes NY78, NY3, NY100, NY5 and NY102* streets.

Entrance by vehicle in and out of the area had been blocked and residents had to walk to Nyanga to get to work via public transport.

Vukukhanya Primary School had been closed since the protests reignited on Friday.

Community leader Mandla Naselane said the issue dated back to 1991, when the land was rezoned for the development of community institutions.

UPDATE: Violent protests continue at hotspots across SA


However, political violence flared up in KTC, Nyanga, during apartheid. Some residents fled and took refuge on a plot simply known as Section 4.

The original residents said they "borrowed" the land until they felt safe enough to return to KTC, or they took up the offer to resettle on land in Manenberg and Delft. However, as they left, new occupants took their places.

"Every day there is a new shack," said Naselane.

In the meantime, residents were upset that the long-promised a community hall and other shared facilities like a library and a satellite police station had not materialised, and discovered that the land had been rezoned for housing.

They had objected in writing to the Cape Town City Council, as required, but the objection was not successful, according to a letter dated April 2015.

Many believe the African National Congress made the original promise of a community centre during election campaigning in the early 1990s and, when the ANC's support declined, the DA's promises took over.

"It can't be that when the government of the ANC loses this area, that the promises that were made are changed by the DA without the consent of the community," Naselane said.

These promises were that there would be a community hall for the area, a park, facilities for the elderly, a library, and a satellite police station.


Naselane explained that locals were not against housing, but they felt that such a significant change to original planning commitments needed their input.

"It's not that we don't like it. We need to consent to every development that is happening in our communities."

He said the protesters did not want anybody to feel unsafe - they wanted officials to take notice of their grievances.

They wondered who would move into the houses, but could not seem to get more information.

"They must come back to us so that we can talk and we will see if we can compromise."

They wanted the acting provincial Democratic Alliance leader, Bonginkosi Madikizela, to come and talk to them again, following his visit in March.

The City of Cape Town asked for written questions.


* NY is the abbreviation for Native Yards, and dates back to an era when town planners did not produce actual names for streets in areas designated for blacks. Many streets had been renamed but locals still referred to them by the NY number.

Read more on:    cape town  |  protests

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