Don’t hold area hostage

The violent clashes and service delivery protests by Siqalo and Mitchell’s Plain residents exacerbated by thuggery and looting must be condemned.

Understandably, the plight of those living in horrendous conditions in Siqalo informal settlement has culminated in extreme frustration and anger. But holding Mitchell’s Plain residents hostage by barricading Jake’s Gerwel Drive is not the answer. The City of Cape Town has been in communication with Siqalo residents since 2012, and as proportional representative councillor during 2014, I met with the leadership of Siqalo to discuss the issue of introducing solar electricity, based on a model I had seen work effectively at an informal settlement in Stellenbosch.

Thereafter, executive mayor Patricia de Lille convened a conciliatory meeting after similar protests took place on Jakes Gerwel Drive. Their grievance then was their dissatisfaction with the awarding of a particular portaloo service contractor, and the employment of Siqalo residents to service the contract. The leadership, headed by a young man named Madiba and his executive were very interested in the concept of introducing solar panels and basic electricity for their shacks, but a power struggle and reluctance to hand over leadership terminated further discussion and progress.

In conclusion, with the 2019 elections, let us not use this situation as a political football to garner favour with the electorate.

Mark Kleinschmidt Kenwyn
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