Protesters detained as they continue to press City of Cape Town for services to new shacks

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Living conditions in eThembeni
Living conditions in eThembeni
Supplied by Bhekisisa
  • 28 people were detained during a gathering near Cape Town's Civic Centre to follow up on demands for services to new shack residents, according to one of the group's leaders.
  • He said they were waiting to be addressed by Mayor Dan Plato when police rounded on them.
  • The group initiated a shutdown of roads around Khayelitsha last week to highlight demands that newly occupied stands be provided with water and toilets.

Twenty-eight people were detained during a gathering near Cape Town's Civic Centre to follow up on demands for services to new shack residents in Khayelitsha.

Mabhelandile Twani told News24 the group, including eight women, could face charges of public violence. He said he was among the group taken in by police.

Police spokesperson Captain FC Van Wyk said: "Twenty males and eight females (all adults) were arrested on offences in terms of the Gatherings Act, Public Violence and refusal to provide particulars to a police officer. They are due to appear in court once charged."

The group of about 80 protested near the Civic Centre in the CBD, saying their patience was wearing thin after their requests that the seas of newly built shacks in Khayelitsha get water, toilets and the area be provided with electricity were ignored.

"We were waiting for Dan Plato to address us. Instead of addressing us, he sent the police to shoot us and arrest us," Twani said.

He claimed: 

We told police we are not fighting. They pretended they heard us, and while we were listening to them they arrested us.

The City of Cape Town has made it clear it cannot bypass its housing list nor agree to build utilities in flood plains and other recently occupied areas it says are deemed unfit for human habitation.

After the massive protest along main routes in Khayelitsha this week, it said it also does not have the money.

READ | Fiery day of protests in Khayelitsha over battle for basic services to new shacks

Three Golden Arrow buses and a Checkers delivery truck were torched, but the group blamed this on criminals, and not the protesters.

The City of Cape Town said the N2 and Mew Way over the highway were blocked, but the N2 was later reopened.

Last week, the group said they had opted for the protests because their requests were being ignored.

Some residents of several new settlements said the City must stop wasting money on interdicts to remove people from the plots they are occupying.

Instead, the authority should be finding ways of bringing them the services they need.

Some of the names of the settlements reflect the torrid year the residents say they have had due to the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic: Covid 19, Social Distance, Pandemic and Lock Down.

They say they have been forced to live in the sandy scrub land because of the hardships they faced during the lockdown, which included trying to avoid crowded living spaces and dealing with income gutted by business closures.

The attempted removal of Bulelani Qholani from his shack in eThembeni drew attention to the growth of settlements along major arterial routes and the Disaster Management Act regulations and eviction law which severely curtails the circumstances which permit forceful removals and the demolition of structures.

The City of Cape Town has already stated that the eThembeni settlement is on land that was supposed to have accommodated an upgrade to pipes linking parts of Khayelitsha to the Zandvliet sewage plant so that the Khayelitsha residents will have improved sewage services. This project appears to have stalled as the settlement grows.

In the meantime, the City and the province have been publicising the handover of title deeds and the official handover of formal housing projects, as it faces a slew of challenges relating to its right to evict people. This amid legal precedents narrowing down how and when evictions can take place.

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