Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Cape Town - The land illegally invaded in Philippi last week is destined to become the site of a significant new job-creator and economic hub which is part of a huge industrial development proposal.
The owner of Erf 145 and other private landowners in Philippi have an interdict from the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court preventing any illegal occupation or trespassing on the land.
The same applied to erfs 145, 20858, 135, 416, 586, 4115, 532, 589 and 143, as well as Farm 597/1. These parcels of land are all between Sheffield, Stock and Lansdowne roads, and together make up about 40 hectares.
The collective development had been branded an “aerotropolis”, which built “economic benefits around major airports, cities and immediate environs”, said The Waterstreet Group’s spokesman, Oscar Saunderson. “The aerotropolis develops spines or nodes of commercial and residential development as a joint venture between the airport, harbour, airlines, the city, province and the airports company of a region.
“Airports are now driving economic location just as canals and railways did before.”
Saunderson quoted the chief executive of Manchester City, Sir Howard Bernstein, who forecast: “The top 600 cities in the world will change and 100 new ones will emerge.
IOL marikana cape Mawethu Mfazwe done
Marikana informal settlement residents have no intention of moving from land they are squatting on. File picture: David Ritchie
“International collaboration and trade will become fundamental to city strategy, as will connectivity, and the aerotropolis covers both elements.”
The aerotropolis drove growth since airports became preferred hubs where a primary business community, in time, established itself.
“With things like data parks, diamond-cutting plants, cold storage, comes African head offices and growing demand for more air routes, and stopovers, and finally shopping, and spending in our town. This can create thousands of jobs, and thriving tourism businesses.
“Cape Town’s industrial and warehousing market is in demand, specifically around the airport. With all the import to and export from southern Africa, we believe that there is an increasing opportunity to establish a strong air freight hub in Cape Town.”
The developers and landowners include Power Developments Projects, H&T Prop CC, PJL Prop, Anika Delicio, Maria Salvatore Delicio and Annemarie Delicio.
Some of the proposed development will comprise “a mixed high-density area of industrial development, with housing complexes, wholesale and retail shopping centres” providing thousands of jobs.
“The industrial hive will include small business creation, various public facilities such as clinics, crèches, schools and recreational areas,” the collective development group said in its interdict application.
Saunderson said: “This envisaged business park is intended to be an industrial centre for the entire Philippi and surrounding area, an area to date characterised by its almost total lack of large-scale industrial, and accordingly job-creating, activity.”
The developers argued in their court application: “The business park has enormous benefits for the entire community and it will literally create thousands of jobs in an area where they are sorely lacking. Several thousand jobs will be created during the initial construction phase, which will continue for approximately two to three years. After this (we) understand approximately 65 000 jobs and career opportunities will be created…
“(We) do not believe it needs repetition that one of the most urgent needs in the Western Cape, and the country as a whole, is private job creation. (We) would submit that many of the social ills that currently afflict the region, including lack of access to housing, flow directly from lack of opportunities available to persons to generate income in order to properly provide for themselves and their families.”
The applicants are also members of the Philippi Economic Development Initiative, “an agglomeration of landowners, businessmen, residents, the City of Cape Town, and diverse other interested parties and community organisations, whose sole purpose is the economic upliftment of the entire Philippi area, an area historically marked by serious neglect and underdevelopment.”
‘The victims are invariably the poor’
In an affidavit before the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court one of the applicants, Gary Power, alleges: “I suppose that it is possible that all of a sudden several people spontaneously and simultaneously decided to occupy the property, but would submit that there are strong indicators that the real reason for the prospective land invasion is the insidious practice known as ‘plot farming’.
“What this entails is that a consortium of persons identifies an area of vacant land and then lets it be known, frequently using fake credentials, that they are entitled to allocate portions of that land to landless persons.
“The consortium then extracts payment from persons who believe they are buying a real right to land, usually R500,” the affidavit reads.
Alternatively, the people were told they would be allocated land if they paid a “membership fee”.
These fraudulent property “sellers” usually marked out erfs with pegs and string or tape, adding apparent authenticity to the supposed sale.
After the buyers had been evicted they found the consortium had disbanded and disappeared.
The developers said these victims were “invariably the poorest of the poor who can ill afford spending any amount unnecessarily, are out of pocket and often without a home”.
The developers had seen first-hand how plots had been delineated on the sites of the illegal land invasions, leading them to believe that plot farming was behind recent land invasions.
On September 10 the court will rule on whether the interdict barring land invasions should be made permanent.
The court demands that the police, with the support of the metro police and other relevant enforcement agencies, must take action should the court interdict be broken.
But it was in terms of basic criminal law – which prohibits trespassing – that the police and metro police guarded the site on Friday as the shacks were dismantled and their materials removed from the site.
The City of Cape Town’s Richard Bosman said about 307 structures had been dismantled.
‘We won’t go’
Marikana informal settlement residents have no intention of moving from land they are squatting on.
The privately-owned land in Philippi was invaded about three weeks ago.
The squatters were removed after the developer got a court order but when the Cape Argus visited the informal settlement on Monday, the whole area had been re-occupied.
The residents refused to vacate the land, saying the developer would have to find another site for the mall.
Thando Matiwane, a resident, said: “I do not understand this mall thing. How do you evict people and pull down their homes just for the sake of building a mall? Who is going to buy from that mall?”
Matiwane moved from his backyard home in Lower Crossroads to Marikana two weeks ago.He said he could not afford the R400 rent.
Another resident, Lisa Qomoyi, a mother of two who runs a business selling chicken feet, said the developer should forget about the mall.
“We are not moving from here. So many malls have been built around this area yet none are functioning well. This area has grown to become my business; there is no way I am moving.”
Qomoyi lived in Nyanga before moving to Philippi. She said since coming to Cape Town from the Transkei in 1984, she had not been given a house nor secured a proper job.
“Parts of Gugulethu, KTC and Nyanga all started as informal settlements. Residents fought for their homes and look, now they are still there. Why can we not fight for our own homes?”
The residents said they did not care whether the mall would create employment for them.
Mawethu Mfazwe said: “So many malls have been built in this area. Look at Philippi Plaza or the Gugulethu Square, but none of the employees are from those areas. These companies bring workers of their own. This mall would be useless. How do we shop when we have no shelter?” – Additional reporting by Zodidi Dano
Cape Town - Police involved in the eviction of people from Lwandle in June may have acted outside of the law and without any regard for the community they were supposed to protect, a ministerial inquiry into the removals has heard.
Members of the public order police who enforced the court order obtained in January by the SA National Road Agency (Sanral), on Tuesday faced a grilling from the inquiry set up by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to investigate the evictions.
A 20-minute video showed edited footage of the first day of the evictions. Members of the inquiry interrogated the police’s operational plan for the evictions, why the legality of the eviction order was not properly verified, the lack of engagement with the community and the ward councillor and the use of force and pepper spray to manage residents who resisted.
Advocate Denzil Potgieter, who chaired the inquiry, said the police acted on an interim and not a final eviction order, making them “complicit” in flouting the law.
But Lieutenant-Colonel Jimmy Lucas, who was the operational commander for the evictions on June 2, said he had been assured by Sanral that the eviction order was valid.
But inquiry member Annelize van Wyk wanted to know why the police would defer to Sanral’s legal team instead of their own internal legal unit.
“I find it of concern that we keep hearing ‘what does Sanral want from us’ and not ‘what does the law want from us’,” said Van Wyk.
But Lucas said: “I had no reason at all not to believe this was a valid order.”
He added that if he had refused to comply, he would have been brought before the high court for being in contempt of court.
Facing a barrage of questions from the inquiry, Lucas repeatedly defended his team’s actions, saying that the police had an obligation to maintain law and order. Faced with mounting violence from the angry community, the police had acted accordingly.
They also had to protect people living in the nearby formal dwellings.
He added that he had allowed residents to collect personal belongings before the demolished structures were removed. When asked if he would have done anything differently, Lucas said: “I don’t think I would have done anything else.”
The hearings were adjourned until on Thursday so that the operational commander for the second day of evictions could appear before the inquiry.
He was expected to testify on Tuesday, but failed to turn up.
Van Wyk said this was a sign of “ill-discipline” and she demanded that the police appear again before the inquiry. “They’ve got to take responsibility for the operation as a unit.”
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
The ANC does not want to see Public Protector Thuli Madonsela vacate her office before the end of her term but she must do her job correctly, party secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Tuesday.
“We don't want to remove the public protector, we want the public protector to do her work correctly and behave correctly,” Mantashe told reporters in Johannesburg.
“We have no interest in removing her. She must finish her term but she must not abuse that term.”
Mantashe said there was a sense that Madonsela was abusing her office and was always trying to get the attention of the media by saying things that were not in any report or being investigated anywhere.
“That is what we are talking about. That is why we are not attacking the public protector or her office but we are attacking the behaviour that is wrong,” he said.
Mantashe then turned his attention to the leaking to the media of Madonsela's reports. He said the leaks could not be attributed to divisions within the ANC.
The statement follows Madonsela's claim that a letter she had written to President Jacob Zuma was leaked by a senior ANC official to the media.
Madonsela reportedly wrote to Zuma last week about the spending of R246 million on security upgrades at his Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal homestead.
In her letter, she cautioned Zuma he was second-guessing her recommendations that he should repay part of the money spent on features unrelated to security, such as a swimming pool, cattle kraal, amphitheatre, and visitors' centre.
In his reply to her report on Nkandla, Zuma indicated Police Minister Nathi Nhleko needed to determine if he should pay back any of the R246 million.
Madonsela wrote in her letter: “I am concerned that the decision you have made regarding the police minister gives him power he does not have under law, which is to review my decision taken in pursuit of the powers of administrative scrutiny I am given... by the Constitution.”
Madonsela said on Monday that she had reason to believe a senior ANC official leaked her letter to the media.
Mantashe countered: “The office of the public protector leaks every report she writes and blames that on the divisions within the ANC.”
Mantashe said it had become the norm that all public protector reports would be leaked to the media before she had even released them.
“I know that every report she has been involved in... I'm going to read about it in the newspaper before it is released.
“That can never be because of divisions in the ANC. We deal with our own divisions but the public protector's office must be watertight. You can't leak information and blame the ANC divisions,” he said.
Mantashe and his deputy Jesse Duarte continued hammering the issue of leaks and Duarte questioned the manner in which the explanations for the leaks were given, but individuals not named.
“Each leak is glibly explained away. Who is that senior official who leaked the letter? There is nothing unfortunate about the leaks, they are timed and deliberate,” Duarte said.
Duarte and Mantashe questioned the timing of the leaking of the letter and the heckling of Zuma in Parliament by members of the Economic Freedom Fighters, after the EFF asked when Zuma would pay back the Nkandla money. Proceedings had to be stopped for the day and riot police were called in.
“A leak at the same time when the EFF undermines the people of SA is too much of a coincidence,” said Duarte.
Mantashe called on Madonsela not to get involved in politics and to stop behaving like a political institution.
He said the public protector should get out of the political space and leave political parties to sort themselves out.
Madonsela then took to twitter to defend herself against the barrage of attacks by the pair. She stood her ground and questioned how accountability was weakening democracy.
“Can someone please say how exactly is the deepening of accountability a weakening of parliamentary democracy... Let's face th truth. What's embarrassing the country is attempts to subvert the rule of law & not administrative scrutiny (sic),” she said.
Madonsela said if everyone respected the Constitution and the law, there would be no crisis in the country.
She said politicians should stop interfering with her work.
“Administrative scrutiny is a reality if our constitutional democracy. It's not a political exercise & Politicians should stop interfering (sic),” she tweeted.
Madonsela said the country was in trouble when politicians meddled in the investigation processes, leaked documents then cried foul.
The EFF on Tuesday denied any link to the leaking of the letter and their heckling of Zuma.
Spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the ANC was trying to detract attention from the Nkandla issue.
“The ANC has lost the public relations war and now they have to concoct a story to defer the issue that is on the table, which is Nkandla,” he said.
Ndlozi accused Zuma of being the one who leaked the document to the media.
“If there is anyone with a history of leaking information it is Jacob Zuma to distract the public's attention as we saw with the Mzilikazi (waAfrika) story,” he said.
In his book, waAfrika claims that Zuma leaked information about Bulelani Ngcuka being a former apartheid spy.
Ndlozi called on the ANC to stop attacking Madonsela's office.
“We condemn in the strongest way the continuing intimidation and war that has been declared on the public protector,” he said.
Cape Town - An inquiry investigating the removal of people and structures in Lwandle, Cape Town, asked a police operational commander on Tuesday what he could have done differently.
Lt-Col Jimmy Lucas endured a day of tough questions from the Lwandle inquiry, but remained adamant he had done his best on June 2, the day he was in charge.
“I don't think I would have done anything else other than what I did on that day.”
Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu set up the inquiry, to probe the removals of June 2 and June 3.
Lucas said police were called to maintain public order and help the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) effect a court order to remove illegal shack dwellers from its land.
The police had anticipated they would be met with violence but were surprised at how quickly it escalated. Residents were seen throwing petrol bombs at police vehicles.
Inquiry members wanted to know why Lucas “disrespected” local councillor Mbuyiselo Matha, who pleaded with him on June 2 to call off the removals and negotiate around a table.
“You did not co-operate with that councillor... He felt belittled by yourself. We even saw him walk away and crying,” inquiry member Mampe Ramotsomai said.
The inquiry wanted to know why he had not asked Matha to speak with residents and calm the situation.
After watching the relevant video clip, Lucas testified that he spent 10 minutes listening to Matha, while monitoring the nearby angry crowd and deciding on the next move.
The inquiry felt the situation was not as tense as Lucas had suggested.
In reply, Lucas said of a man in the crowd: “That is a petrol bomb. That is not a beer he is drinking, honourable chairperson.”
The operational commander for June 3, Captain Andre de Graaff, did not appear before the inquiry on Tuesday, despite a subpoena.
The inquiry arranged for a postponement earlier in August to allow De Graaff to testify, as he was on leave at the time.
Advocate Ncumisa Mayosi, instructed by the State attorney on behalf of the SA Police Service, said the police intended taking up the matter internally.
“SAPS doesn't have an explanation for why (he is not here) as he is expected to be here by his superiors,” she said.
The inquiry was postponed until Thursday for further police testimony.
Monday, August 25, 2014
Many of President Zuma's allies make up the ad hoc committee which will interrogate public protector Thuli Madonsela's report on Nkandla upgrades.
The ANC has deployed a formidable team of President Jacob Zuma’s allies to the ad hoc committee that will interrogate public protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on the multi-million rand upgrades at Zuma’s Nkandla’s home, and his response to the matter.
The ANC announced it will nominate Cedric Frolick to chair the committee. He also chaired the initial ad hoc committee that was established to investigate the upgrade just before the May 7 general elections.
Frolick is viewed as a fair and objective house chairperson by opposition parties, and was known to be close to former speaker Max Sisulu in the fourth Parliament.
On Monday, former ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga, a well known adversary of Madonsela, said it was not up to her to decide if Zuma’s response to her Nkandla report was adequate or not.
Motshekga, who has had frequent clashes with the public protector, said it should be the job of the ad hoc committee to assess his response.
Motshekga referred to Madonsela’s handling of the Nkandla saga as “disrespectful” to Parliament and said Madonsela should refrain from engaging in extra-parliamentary processes.
The ANC has also nominated deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude to be a member of the ad hoc committee.
She was also a member of the committee that was established before the elections and she played hard ball alongside her comrades. She first delayed the committee’s work by requesting extra time to read the documents and then later proposed that the inter-ministerial task team report, which had cleared Zuma of any wrongdoing, also be considered alongside the report of the public protector and the Special Investigations Unit.
Risks of earthquakes, rape and flooding
The ANC is expected to insist on this again when the new committee convenes. The initial task team had found that a high risk of earthquakes, volatile politics and high levels of rape in the Nkandla region were some of the reasons behind the upgrade to Zuma’s home.
“In terms of natural hazards, Nkandla can be susceptible to strong earthquakes [at] an average [of] one earthquake every 50 years, with occurrences at five to six [on the] Richter scale. While there is a medium to low risk of periods with extreme drought, the risk [of] flooding is also very high,” stated a report of parliament’s joint standing committee on intelligence, which was based on information the committee received from the task team.
Francois Beukman, former executive director of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, former ANC deputy chief whip Mmamoloko Kubayi, Beatrice Ngcobo and Lindiwe Maseko complete the ANC team.
“The list we have recommended to the Speaker is composed of very capable individuals with parliamentary experience, political expertise and legal know-how necessary to the issue the ad hoc committee is mandated to consider”, said the party in a statement.
“The office of the ANC chief whip is confident that the following capable individuals will assist the ad hoc committee and Parliament to achieve its objectives.”
Freedom Front Plus’s Corne Mulder and the Inkatha Freedom Party’s Narend Singh will represent the smaller parties, while the Economic Freedom Fighters are expected to deploy their leader, Julius Malema, to the committee.
The National Assembly resolved to re-establish an 11-member ad hoc committee to consider the Nkandla upgrades last Tuesday. The committee is scheduled to report back to the sitting of the House no later than October 24 2014.
If President Jacob Zuma does not blink on the Nkandla scandal, he could find it heading down a very, very uncomfortable legal path.
The argument would go something like this: President Jacob Zuma failed to take appropriate action on Nkandla. By doing so, he knowingly undermined the office of the public protector and the Constitution. That, in turn, caused others to believe they could act with impunity – doing untold harm to South Africa and its people.
Or that would be the argument if it follows the rough draft written by public protector Thuli Madonsela, and if Zuma does not reverse his seemingly firm decision to largely ignore her on Nkandla.
Even for a president who has, just in the past two weeks, been accused in courts of blocking legal processes without any reason and not doing enough to fight corruption, facing such an argument would be uncomfortable. But in theory the implications could go well beyond discomfort to providing a basis for impeachment and a full-blown constitutional crisis.
The alternative at worst implies that Zuma will have to repay some of the state money spent on his Nkandla residence, and so implicitly admit that he and his family unduly benefitted from the R250-million project.
Zuma’s unscheduled exit
Both the City Press and Sunday Times on Sunday reported on a letter Madonsela wrote to Zuma on the same day Zuma made an unscheduled exit from Parliament in the face of a revolt by MPs of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
In the letter, Madonsela meticulously dismantles Zuma’s position on Nkandla, pointing out inconsistencies and framing those in constitutional terms, even as she apologises for confronting him in such fashion.
“I sincerely regret having to approach you in this matter,” she writes. “The alternative is that I advise complainants and the National Assembly that there is no engagement on the report or implementation of remedial action.”
Madonsela published a report of nearly 450 pages on Nkandla in March, which notably found Zuma had breached ethics rules and must repay some of the Nkandla construction costs. Zuma, on August 14, submitted a 20-page “report to the speaker” that his office and the ANC insisted at the time constitutes a response to Madonsela’s findings.
Madonsela, in Thursday’s seven-page letter with a notably heavy use of the word “respectfully”, disagrees.
“I could find no indication in your report that you were responding to the contents of my report, commenting on it and were reporting to the National Assembly on the actions that you have taken or are taking to implement remedial action. I have also noticed that your report excludes some of my findings and remedial action.”
Madonsela lays out other procedural and technical issues in her letter, including that:
- She last officially heard from the presidency in April and had not been “favoured” with a response to her report;
- Zuma told Parliament he would respond to Madonsela’s report when he received another Nkandla report, that of the Special Investigating Unit. He has since received that report;
- Zuma had appointed the minister of police to determine how much he should repay on Nkandla without accepting, rejecting, or even commenting on the only finding that he should repay money – that of Madonsela herself.
“I am concerned that your decision gives an impression that you are unhappy with my finding that you should pay and [my] point of view that the National Treasury and the South African Police Service should only assist you to quantify the reasonable amount to be paid,” Madonsela writes.
In other sections of her letter, Madonsela points to the constitutional authority under which her investigation was conducted – in decidedly pointed fashion.
“As you are aware, section 181(3) of the Constitution provides that organs of state (which includes the president) must assist and protect the institution of the public protector to ensure its independence, impartiality, dignity, and effectiveness,” Madonsela writes, before urging Zuma to actually respond to Parliament on her report.
Continuing down the path he is on, she warns “would not augur well for expectations that the rule of law is being upheld at all levels, including at your level as the pinnacle of government. It may also encourage impunity at various levels of the state”.
The public protector also points out that her reports can be overturned by a court, but not by executive decision.
Getting the job done
Madonsela has often noted that her office relies on “soft power”, the use of persuasion, cajoling, and to some extent public sentiment, to get the job done. Her letter to Zuma, however, reads more like a battle plan for legal action by a third party.
In theory those who complained to Madonsela about Nkandla in the first place, including the Democratic Alliance, have the legal standing to apply that plan. Should Zuma (now warned of the implications by way of her letter) still fail to take Madonsela’s Nkandla findings into account, those complainants can turn to the courts. Ultimately, such an action would almost certainly end up in the Constitutional Court.
And it is clear that in Madonsela’s view, at least, Zuma would be hard pressed to explain himself to the Constitutional Court, should he fail to back down.
Zuma himself on Thursday put in place the last legal requirement for such a challenge, shortly before the EFF took over Parliament in their own protest at what the party described as Zuma’s failure to answer the Nkandla questions posed by Madonsela’s report.
Madonsela, in her letter sent on the same day, carefully does not put words into the mouth of Zuma. Rather than accuse Zuma himself of saying his 20-page report constitutes his only response to her findings, Madonsela points to “public perception as reflected in recent media reports” to that effect.
But before Thursday’s Parliamentary session broke down entirely, Zuma ended up saying exactly that.
“As I said in my answering the question, I have responded to the reports about Nkandla,” Zuma told the EFF. “The reports about Nkandla is not only the public protector ... I have responded to all the reports as I am supposed to ... ”
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has expressed concern that President Jacob Zuma is second-guessing the recommendations she made in her Nkandla report, City Press reported on Sunday.
In his reply to her report, Zuma indicated Police Minister Nathi Nhleko needed to determine if he should pay back any of the R246-million spent on security upgrades at his Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, homestead.
“I am concerned that the decision you have made regarding the police minister gives him power he does not have under law, which is to review my decision taken in pursuit of the powers of administrative scrutiny I am given... by the Constitution,” she wrote in a letter to Zuma.
“As I have already indicated, reports of the public protector are by law not subject to any review or second-guessing by a minister and/or the Cabinet.”
Her findings and remedial action could only be set aside by a court of law, she wrote.
She noted that in his 20-page reply to her report he did not address her findings or remedial action.
In her report, titled “Secure in Comfort”, Madonsela indicated Zuma needed to repay all non-security related expenses at Nkandla, such as the swimming pool, cattle kraal, amphitheatre, and visitors' centre.
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Cape Town - Police have been accused of using live ammunition during violent protests in Philippi yesterday, with one man shot in the leg recovering in Tygerberg Hospital.
Although community leader Tumi Ramahlele insisted live ammunition was used, Tygerberg Hospital spokeswoman Laticia Pienaar said they had not yet ascertained whether live ammunition caused the injuries sustained by the patient, Robert Sobutyu.
Sobutyu was in a stable condition last night, Pienaar said.
Violence broke out yesterday after about 600 people were evicted from land near the controversial Marikana site, where evictions have been ongoing for months.
Running battles raged as police clashed with angry residents.
By late yesterday, a heavy police presence remained on Stock Road, which was littered with stones blocking traffic.
Several roads were closed following the clashes.
Cape Town traffic spokesman Richard Coleman said traffic officers had to be posted along the nearby N2 freeway after protesters hurled stones at motorists.
Officers had set up barriers at several intersections in Philippi, Coleman added.
But Ramahlele charged that residents found themselves caught in a war zone, and were forced to use whatever material was available to shield themselves from rubber bullets and live ammunition.
Police were adamant that they did not use live ammunition.
Police spokesman Captain Frederick van Wyk said they used rubber bullets and gas grenades.
Four policeman were injured by the rock-throwing, but police had received no reports of injured civilians.
Eleven arrests were made and the suspects have been charged with public violence and malicious damage to property.
Two trucks’ windscreens were damaged by the stone throwing, and a building
behind the Philippi Cash and Carry had been set alight.
Late last night Van Wyk said the situation had calmed down, and that police would maintain a presence in the area overnight.
COUNTING THE COST OF PHILIPPI UNREST
Deep in the settlement where the demolition of about 600 shacks had taken place, families sat around their remaining belongings. Some made sandwiches, others gathered what materials they could.
But all said they were determined to stay put.
It was the quiet in the storm, a storm that saw running battles raging across several kilometres in Marikana settlement in Philippi East as police clashed with angry residents who said all they wanted was a place to call home.
The authorities, however, say they’re building shacks on privately owned land, thus breaking the law, and must be dealt with.
JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, questioned whether “criminal elements” were using the land invasion.
“The structures have been erected on privately owned land. The landowners have interdicts in place against illegal occupation. Thus, the persons who have erected the structures are breaking the law,” he said.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) is the lead agency, assisted by the city’s law enforcement agencies, Smith explained, adding that “anyone who insists on continuing to invade this land is breaking the law and they should be prepared to face the consequences”.
Amid claims and counter-claims about the use of live ammunition, with police admitting to only using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters, community leader Tumi Ramahlele said residents were only responding to the use of force against them.
“We used tactics, and blocked ourselves,” he said.
Ramahlele claimed that even though “people were shot between the eyes”, they had managed to push the police out of the area.
A Weekend Argus team on the scene later yesterday saw people nursing their injuries, while guarding their remaining belongings.
Nomthemba Mayekiso, hobbling around with the aid of metal pole, said a rubber bullet had struck her on the leg.
Linda Sulani said she had not had the chance to get her belongings before a uniformed official entered her shack and chased her away.
Nomawethu Dlela said her fridge, TV and stove were gone.
Loyiso Nkohla, from the Ses’Khona People’s Rights Movement, was on site addressing residents. He said that authorities should have offered the affected residents alternative accommodation.
Earlier yesterday, rioters ran through the smoke carrying cases of Coca-Cola after looting a wholesaler, and by late yesterday, an overturned minibus still blocked the way to the settlement. One policeman was heard shouting into his radio: “We’re dealing with a monster. Rome is burning.”
A waste recycling plant was petrol-bombed, setting fire to two trucks.
A police water-cannon truck sped to the scene to drive the crowds back to allow City of Cape Town firefighters to extinguish the many blazes.
As the crowd melted away before reforming about a kilometre away, another law enforcement officer shouted: “We need more rubber bullets.”
Roads were littered with rocks and burning tyres, and several cars were stoned.
The crowds initially took heed of journalists' right to safe passage, but some were later threatened with death.
One woman clutching an ANC flag stopped alongside a VW Polo, which had had its windows smashed and sub-woofer speaker ripped out of the boot through the smashed glass: “This is not right. What if this driver had no insurance? How will he pay? I am ANC but this (violence) is so wrong.”
Meanwhile Tony Ehrenreich, provincial head of Cosatu and ANC leader in the Cape Town City Council, condemned the violence, calling it “completely unacceptable”.
But he added that the police had in the past not managed evictions “properly… in a humane way”.
“Both sides need to be really careful in the way they conduct themselves,” Ehrenreich said.
He went on to call for an urgent meeting of local political leaders to thrash out solutions to the housing crisis.
“So what we must urgently do, as all the roleplayers, led by the city, is to find solutions to the growing needs. People are not invading land out of hostility, but our of their desperate circumstances.
“We’re going to see an explosion of that – of moving on to land. Rental prices for backyarders has sky-rocketed, so they have no choice but to move on to land.
“So instead of fighting with poor people, we must find coherent solutions – not to the symptoms, but the causes of homelessness across the city,” Ehrenreich warned.
Friday, August 22, 2014
Cape Town - Rioters ran through the smoke carrying cases of Coca-Cola after looting a wholesaler in Marikana, Philippi, on Friday morning as the area once again flared into violence while evictions were under way.
At the time of publication, running battles raged across several square kilometres as police clashed with angry residents.
Small armies of rioters, carrying rocks and makeshift shields, kept police under constant attack.
The police, who had a helicopter circling, retaliated with tear gas and thunderflashes.
At about 10.30am the crowd broke into a Cash&Carry building and raided a stack of crates of Coca-Cola, screaming: “Free drinks!”
Police riot control vehicles raced to the site as looters sought new targets.
A vehicle fleeing the violent mob at the wholesalers smashed into a metro police car.
Shortly after 11am a lone police vehicle came under heavy attack, surrounded by hundreds of residents, some searching for petrol to make bombs.
Sources said on Friday’s evictions would see more than 600 shacks demolished by teams.
It will be the largest number taken down by authorities since evictions in the area began, with an average of 100 dwellings toppled daily during previous operations.
The current round of evictions are taking place on land bordering on contested property which over the past two weeks has been a hotbed of conflict as law enforcement officers, the City of Cape Town’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit and police have battled to remove squatters from private land in the Marikana township.
Previous skirmishes have seen both residents and police injured as rubber bullets, stun grenades and rocks flew.
Numerous rounds of evictions have been unsuccessful as defiant residents rebuilt their dwellings overnight.
In the past, police have been recalled after the situation was deemed to be too dangerous.
Residents said they would continue to build on private land and that there was nothing the city could do to stop them.
Tumi Ramahlele, a resident and community leader, did not respond to calls at the time of the trouble on Friday morning.
Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith said: “The City of Cape Town’s law enforcement agencies are assisting the South African Police Service with an operation in Philippi around the removal of illegal structures from privately owned land.
“The land owners have interdicts in place against illegal occupation. The City of Cape Town will continue to uphold the rule of law and an orderly, just and equitable housing delivery system. Anyone who insists on continuing to invade this land is breaking the law and they should be prepared to face the consequences.”
Today’s evictions follow operations this week in Enkanini, where law enforcement and police were pelted with stones in the Khayelitsha township. Smith said land invasions in Philippi were “clearly politically motivated”, while this may not be the case in the other township.
- Cape Argus
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Parliament - President Jacob Zuma did not return to the National Assembly to complete Thursday afternoon’s questions session after the Economic Freedom Fighters brought the House to a standstill with shouts of “Where is the money?” related to the taxpayer-funded security upgrades at his Nkandla homestead.
“Honourable members, we are faced with a situation we are unable to continue with the sitting and have allowed the president to proceed with the work of his office,” National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete announced after MPs were allowed to return to the chamber after more than an hour.
Chaos broke out when EFF MPs insisted Zuma respond to their follow-up question on when he would repay the money spent on the Nkandla security upgrades, shouting “Where is the money?”.
EFF parliamentary leader Julius Malema had asked the question when the president would respond to the public protector’s report - she found he had to repay at least some of the costs of the non-security upgrades like the swimming pool, cattle kraal and visitors’ centre. Zuma earlier simply said he had responded to the public protector findings and other reports in his response to Parliament last Thursday.
After an acrimonious exchange on points of order - the EFF insisted Zuma had to answer, the Speaker said he had and must move on - Mbete suspended the House.
All MPs stayed in their seats until she returned to say security staff had ask everyone to vacate. Parliamentary staff and police initially tried to evict the media from the press gallery. However, agreement was eventually reached with the Parliamentary Press Gallery Association (PGA), for journalists to stay on.
During the break unfolded various negotiations involving Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko, State Security Minister David Mahlobo and - surprisingly -Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele, the former state security minister. Western Cape police commissioner General Arno Lamoer was also in the House. The Presidency was also consulted.
At one stage Nhleko and Mahlobo talked with Malema, EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu and another EFF MP.
However the 25 EFF MPs stayed put and sung struggle songs, vowed to sleep in the Chamber and sung “iSono sethu yile Nkandla [Our only sin is Nkandla]”.
Zuma’s question time in the House was the first this year. Parliament and the presidency cited diary challenges for not having secured slots in either the first term of this Parliament or the last term of the past Parliament before the May 7 elections. Under the current custom, the president is supposed to answer questions in the House at least once a term.
It is unclear when he will do so.
- Political Bureau
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Cape Town - Despite a heavy rainstorm, around 1 000 Grabouw residents took part in a service delivery protest and march to the offices of the Theewaterskloof municipality on Wednesday.
They handed over a list of grievances to deputy mayor Mlulami Tshaka and town manager Anton Liebenberg.
The protest was organised by the Grabouw Civic Organisation (GCO) with support from the Western Cape ANC, SA Communist Party, and the Ses'Khona People's Rights Movement (SPRM).
“We have been waiting for 20 years now for an improvement in services. Houses that have been promised in some areas have not been built and those that have been completed are of such poor quality they now have to be repaired. Even that is taking too long,” said Margaret le Roux of the GCO.
“Other grievances included a poor and expensive electricity supply and bad road conditions. Our roads are full of potholes and nothing is being done about it,” she said.
Expelled former Cape Town councillor and leader of the SPRM, Andile Lili, said his organisation had been active in Grabouw and the Theewaterskloof area for a few weeks now and were at the scene to show support for the GCO.
“We have set our sights on the rural areas and have started recruiting more members in areas such as Grabouw, others towns in the Theewaterskloof and the Hermanus and De Doorns areas,” Lili said.
Barry Mitchell, second deputy provincial secretary of the SA Communist Party, told the protesters there would be no time to rest from now until the 2016 municipal elections.
“We need to work together and bring the municipalities back into ANC hands,” he said.
A platoon of the SA Police Service public order policing unit in Paarl was sent to Grabouw on Tuesday night and on Wednesday morning.
They stepped in when rocks were piled and tyres set alight on several roads in the Pineview area. A second platoon was sent to help.
The Pineview north entrance to Grabouw from the N2 was blocked until the protesters dispersed around noon.
Le Roux announced that ANC Western Cape leader Marius Fransman would visit the ANC office in Grabouw later in the afternoon to show support and receive a copy of the list of grievances.
Cape Times - The ANC has given MPs on the newly established Nkandla ad hoc committee carte blanche and promised them a “blank cheque” to exercise their powers when they investigate the spending.
On Tuesday, Parliament formally approved an ANC motion for the establishment of the ad-hoc committee, which will consider President Jacob Zuma’s response to the upgrades at his Nkandla residence.
In a rare occurrence, some opposition parties including the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), sided with the ANC when parties had to vote on the DA’s motion to amend the scope of the committee’s work.
Speaker Baleka Mbete had to call for a vote on whether to accept the DA’s call for an amendment to extend the scope of the ad hoc committee with 104 voting for and 196 voting against it. There were nine abstentions.
ANC chief whip Stone Sizani said Parliament should establish the committee to consider Zuma’s response and make recommendations, if applicable. Committee members would exercise powers set out in rule 138 of the rules of the National Assembly.
The committee will consist of 11 members with six coming from the ANC, two from the DA, one from the EFF and two from smaller parties. The committee would have to report to the National Assembly by no later than October 28.
DA chief whip John Steenhuisen disagreed with Sizani’s motion saying the ANC’s motion should clearly state and include the public protector and Special Investigating Unit (SIU) reports and all other “relevant information” for submission.
“I do so Madam Speaker because I don’t believe it’s possible for us to discuss the response of the president without having a sight in this Parliament to what he is responding to.”
Sizani said Steenhuisen was just “spoiling for a fight”. “The reason I say he’s spoiling for a fight; rule 138 specifically says they will exercise those powers necessary for them to do their work, they cover all this, so what is the problem? We are giving them a blank cheque. We are saying everything that would enable that committee to conduct its business is available.”
He said the problem was that the DA went to the media and promised them “that we intend killing our own ad hoc committee and that is why they’re opposed to our proposal”.
EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu agreed with Sizani. “If indeed what the chief whip of the majority party is saying is correct, that rule 138 encapsulates the fact that the ad hoc committee is going to discuss the report of the public protector and the SIU report, I don’t think there will be a problem with that because that is what the DA is basically requesting.
“If we will be able to discuss the response of the president we should be able to discuss the reports that the president is responding to.”
He said he didn’t think the ANC was saying the reports of the public protector and SIU will not be discussed.
IFP chief whip Narend Singh said the DA amendments amplify the mandate of the committee.
Steenhuisen said it was a “very disappointing day” in the House and that MPs were leaving the “door open” for the reports to be “ignored”. “It’s not members of the House we don’t trust, it’s Luthuli House we don’t trust.”
DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said after the debate that the DA will hold Sizani “to his public commitment” that other documents will be considered by the committee.
Cape Town - The bang of a stun grenade marked the start of the second day of evictions in the Enkanini settlement in Khayelitsha.
Nervous demolition workers, many of whom had dismantled homes in Philippi East just a week before, looked out for flying rocks as they hurriedly began bashing down newly-erected homes on a strip of city-owned land.
People moved on to the land on Monday night after an eviction which saw them clash with the police on Sunday. They worked through the night, and by on Tuesday morning around 300 shacks stood on the “wrong” side of Mew Way.
At first residents formed a human wall to shield the structures on the outskirts near Baden Powell Drive. But the line collapsed when the police, in full riot gear, charged forward - stun grenades and rifles loaded with rubber bullets, at the ready.
“Get out of here, you can’t do this to us,” shouted a fleeing resident as the first clangs of metal rang out over the coastal township.
But for every resident retaliating, there were three saying they “didn’t want any trouble”.
“We are not violent - just let us have our peace,” said a resident from behind a concrete wall.
There was a brief scuffle when a man stood defiantly in the middle of the street. It took five policemen to restrain him, and even when they dragged him to a waiting van he managed to wriggle free - dashing underneath the vehicle where officers couldn’t reach him.
Residents began hurling rocks, but a stun grenade sent them dashing for cover among a maze of shacks.
The man continued to struggle even after the police had dragged him out but he was eventually arrested.
Demolition teams, guided by a vanguard of policemen, worked their way down the homes. Some were not finished and collapsed easily, while others took more effort.
After the evictions were completed, residents gathered on Mew Way. The smoke from a burning tyre billowed over their heads. Some residents threw rocks at cars on Baden Powell Drive.
City director for safety and security Richard Bosman said the police and law enforcement officers had to act quickly when they first discovered that squatters were erecting shacks on the land again on Monday night.
If they were able to “inhabit a structure” - meaning they had technically moved into the shack and slept there - evicting them would become a protracted legal process that could take up to two years, added the portfolio’s mayco member JP Smith.
The swift action seen on Tuesday is likely to be repeated if people invade the land again, which is what many people threatened to do.
“They will not keep us off this land, we will just build again,” said Lungelo Nofemele, as others nodded in agreement. “This land sits empty, that is why we are building there. How can the (city) say it will develop on this land when it’s been empty for so long.”
But Smith dismissed these justifications. “What it comes down to is people are breaking the law and constitutionally we need to protect that land and the landowner.”
Unlike in Marikana in Philippi East, where Smith suspected there was a political agenda, he said residents in Enkanini were just taking chances. “They can see we are busy in Philippi so they try their luck here.”
He rubbished claims that residents had no other choice. Some, such as Nosiphiwe Mthathi, said the main part of the Enkanini township was overcrowded and expensive.
“Not one of these people is coming from nothing, they have left behind homes to try and take something that doesn’t belong to them,” said Smith.
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said on Tuesday night there was a protest on the corner of Mew Way and Lindela Road. They blocked Baden Powell Drive, Mew Way and Lindela road with burning tyres and other debris.
He said one person had been arrested during the evictions for riotous behaviour but released later.
“We have opened four cases of malicious damage to property - after police and law enforcement vehicles were stoned - and one of theft out of a motor vehicle after a private car was stoned and the driver was robbed of his cellphone,” he added. The roads were closed and traffic was diverted.
“The situation is under control at this point,” he said at around 6pm.