Tuesday, August 28, 2012

We don’t want RDP houses - ANCYL

Cape Town - The ANC Youth league has demanded that land owned by private individuals and companies in Constantia and Rondebosch be made available to house the province’s poor.

This was the first of nine demands contained in a memorandum delivered to the Western Cape government following a protest in Cape Town on Monday.

”There is a lot of land that’s available around the city’s suburbs. We don’t want RDP houses any more and we demand houses with no less than five rooms per family,” said Khaya Yozi, the league’s Dullah Omar region chairman.

 Yozi singled out parts of Constantia and the Rondebosch Common as land that could be given to the province’s poor.

More than a thousand protesters, most of them affiliated with the local ANCYL, the provincial ANC, the Young Communist League (YCL), Cosatu, and the ANC Women’s League assembled outside the Western Cape legislature.

They demanded that Premier Helen Zille accept the memorandum of service delivery demands in person.

“We want Zille. We want the madam,” the crowd chanted.

They later allowed Economic Development MEC Alan Winde to sign the memorandum, but expressed outrage that Zille had snubbed them.

Winde was booed when he tried to explain that the document would be handed to the premier. He said the provincial government would study the memorandum and respond.

Last week, Zille said she would receive the memorandum only if the ANCYL retracted threats to make the city ungovernable.

Monday’s demonstration was the first of many the youth league plans to stage on the 27th of each month, until Zille responded to their demands.

The youth league and their supporters are protesting against the government’s proposed youth wage subsidy – which is backed by the DA – poor service delivery and the possible closure of 27 schools in the province, among other things.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Salt River Train Station just before 11am on Monday to start the 4km walk to the legislature in Wale Street.

Demonstrators included residents from Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Sir Lowry’s Pass, Philippi, Mitchells Plain and youth from the Barcelona, Kanana and Europa informal settlements.

A strong police contingent in Nyalas and water-sprayer trucks kept a close eye on the proceedings.

 Some of the protesters became rowdy at the start of the march by running and trying to break away from the group, but Yozi continuously called for order.

Street vendors opted to stay away from the CBD and some shops closed their doors as the marchers made their way along Adderley Street.

Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich was also among those who addressed the crowd. He told the crowd that it was time Zille took the plight of the poor seriously.

“We will be back. It won’t be long before we live in Constantia, Rondebosch and Sea Point,” he said.

 Yozi added that Zille must apologise for “murdering four people” in Khayelitsha, who were protesting for service delivery.

“We don’t want any more meetings and we are not here looking for a romantic date with her, this is people’s lives she is playing with. We want action,” he said.

Meanwhile in Joburg, Public Protector Thuli Mandonsela appealed to the nation and to the youth league to use constitutional structures to engage in dialogues with organs of state. She cautioned that often people who get into these marches are thugs that have their own agendas.

After the march, Zille said: “The undemocratic, militaristic language used by various speakers during the picket shows that the ANCYL has no clue what constitutional democracy is about. These statements show the real face of the ANCYL and their complete lack of credibility. Their real target is the constitutionalists in the ANC. This is actually about the internal battle for control of the ANC. The ANCYL in the Western Cape supports Julius Malema and that is their real agenda.”

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Toilet report late: Sexwale

A final report on the state of the country's sanitation facilities will only be released next week, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale says.

Sexwale was meant to table the report to Parliament's portfolio committee on Human Settlements on Wednesday.

Instead, copies of an interim report of the Ministerial Sanitation Task Team (MSTT) containing findings and recommendations were distributed.

The document was later taken away from those attending the meeting, including journalists.

MPs were allowed to keep and study the snapshot report.

Sexwale said the report was in the process of being finalised by the MSST.

"After discussion with the team itself we saw it wise not to release this week an interim report, rather to do so when we have a finalised report," said Sexwale.

The minister said the idea was to release it together with the MSST next week.

"Its contents are of interest to many people, specifically the poorest of poor. It's going to determine quite a number of things," Sexwale said.

The task team was established in 2011 following reports of open or incomplete toilets in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape, Moqhaka in the Free State and Moutse in Mpumalanga.

The team, headed by ANC stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, was asked to investigate the scale and nature of the problem and advise on remedial steps.

Friday, August 24, 2012

SAHRC welcomes sanitation report

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has welcomed news that a report on the state of the country's sanitation facilities will be released next week.

“The release of this report coincides with the imminent launch of the commission's provincial hearings on access to the right to water and sanitation,” the SAHRC said in a statement on Thursday.

“The hearings will hear from communities on the problems they face in accessing their rights and government's response to ensuring these constitutional rights.”

The hearings are expected to start next Wednesday in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga.

The report was meant to be tabled on Wednesday by Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexale.

Instead, copies of an interim report of the ministerial sanitation task team containing findings and recommendations were distributed and later taken away from journalists.

MPs were allowed to keep and study the report.

“After discussion with the team itself, we saw it wise not to release this week an interim report, rather to do so when we have a finalised report,” Sexwale said on Wednesday.

The task team was established in 2011 following reports of open or incomplete toilets in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape, Moqhaka in the Free State, and Moutse in Mpumalanga.

The team, headed by ANC stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, was asked to investigate the scale and nature of the problem and to advise on remedial steps. 

- Sapa

Sexwale’s African ventures court controversy

NEWS ANALYSIS: It is inconceivable that the minister does not know what his company does with his money
  • “Minister Sexwale remains placid and … having resigned from all business operations he remains focused on his ministerial responsibilities for the poor.” -- Xolani Xundu, June 22

  • “It is a well-known fact that Minister Sexwale has publicly resigned from all companies and will therefore not dignify faceless sources by confirming or denying any of their stories.” -- Xolani Xundu, June 28

  • “It is reiterated that no response will be entertained in respect of operations and activities of companies that the minister is no longer in charge of.”-- Xolani Xundu, August 16

Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale’s spokesperson, Xolani Xundu, earns his salary by not saying much these days, it seems.

And although Sexwale was worth ­R1.9-billion in listed equities when he joined the government in 2009, his parliamentary and ­Cabinet interest declarations are as taciturn as Xundu.

Sexwale’s 2011 Cabinet declaration gives a glimpse of the apparent reason why he does not make declarations and the exotic riches behind his silence.

Forget the shares in the mining, service and publishing companies that made Sexwale a household name in empowerment.

All that Sexwale declared was a 15% stake in a charter jet and a trust that “has investments in various immovable properties and a yacht”.

Only one of the properties was accorded further elaboration -- although not enough to confirm it was all of an Indian Ocean island, Quilálea.

The declaration simply said: “One of these is a property in Mozambique that has been used as a personal asset to date, but which could be developed for commercial purposes in the foreseeable future.”

Because of the possible commercialisation, Sexwale declared: “I have instructed my advisers to transfer the … shareholding in this asset to one of the ‘blind’ trusts to be executed as soon as possible.”

Put differently, Sexwale’s business interests are housed in “blind” trusts, the assets of which are not declared.

Blind who?
But who is kept in the dark? Sexwale, as he should to insulate him from conflicts of interest, or the public, which is deprived the right to know what fills his coffers (and may fuel his political campaigns)?

A blind trust, Wikipedia says, is one in which the trustees “have full discretion over the assets and the trust beneficiaries [read: Sexwale] have no knowledge of the holdings of the trust and no right to intervene in their handling”.

It is an arrangement popularised by developed-country politicians whose assets tend to be amorphous portfolios of listed shares, easily administered without their knowledge.

Sexwale’s holdings are different. Most of his known investments are through Mvelaphanda Holdings, which he co-founded with Mark Willcox and Mikki Xayiya after his first stint in government ended in 1997.

Although the trusts through which Sexwale co-owns Mvela Holdings may now be technically blind and beyond his control, it is inconceivable that he will be truly unaware of what the company, which Willcox still runs, does with his money.

For starters, Mvela Holdings’s listed investments have been there for all, including Sexwale, to see. Stakes in Absa bank and media company Avusa are examples recently in the news.

Much less visible to the public are the Mvela Holdings interests that went into African Global Capital (AGC), an offshore joint venture with United States hedge fund Och-Ziff.

Until recently, Willcox managed AGC through Africa Management Limited. AGC would not be invisible to Sexwale, though, both because he was actively involved when it was set up in 2007 and his Mvela Holdings associates remained involved.

AGC sprouted investment tentacles through a warren of island secrecy jurisdictions back into Africa and even to South Africa, where one of its investee companies, Coal of Africa, earned controversy for its mining development near the Mapungubwe heritage site in Limpopo.

Sexwale appears not to be as insulated from conflicts of interest as he should be. If he knows where his money is, as he arguably does, he may be tempted to use his power as a public representative to serve his interests over the public. Has he succumbed to the temptation?

Because the extent of his holdings is unknown, it is impossible to answer. But the Sexwale aura has been there for the exploiting. Signet Mining Services, a uranium explorer subsidiary of AGC, boasted on its website of “strong political alliances in Africa through Mvelaphanda”.

And in Congo-Brazzaville an unexpected controversy showed Sexwale’s apparent willingness to “show face” to assist another AGC subsidiary, oil junior New Age, to land a stake in a major gas field.

Sexwale, a trustee of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, gave permission to use a passage, apparently from an old Mandela speech, in a biography of Congolese president Denis Sassou-Nguesso.

When the passage was used as a foreword purporting to be purpose-written by Mandela, the foundation roared about the “brazen abuse”, sparking a diplomatic incident.

Sexwale, then more than six months in government, popped up in the Congo, placating Sassou-Nguesso on national television.

What was not known then was that New Age, the company Sexwale was invested in through AGC, was in the throes of negotiating a stake in the Marine XII offshore gas field with Sassou-Nguesso’s government. Six months later, in June 2010, New Age had the stake.

One person with knowledge of the negotiations claims that the Sexwale factor was crucial. “New Age appeared at the time as a South African company and there was a willingness from Congo-Brazzaville to improve its relations with South Africa, with the newly elected President [Jacob] Zuma and [his] new team in place.”

Sexwale, this person claims, “promoted” the New Age deal directly with Sassou-Nguesso during his visit.

The investments through AGC placed Sexwale in bad company -- that of Israeli businessman Dan Gertler -- as revealed by the Mail & Guardian last week.

Even if Gertler’s wildest antics were yet to come when they joined up, the unfolding events gave rise to the kind of reputational risk that usually sends politicians scurrying.

But Sexwale (or at least his money) stayed put — arguably as the risk of exposure was minimal owing to the opacity of his and AGC’s interests.

The formal relationship with Gertler started in 2008, while Sexwale was still actively in business. AGC invested $150-million with Gertler’s British Virgin Islands-registered Camrose Resources, which had some Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) mining assets and acquired more with part of the AGC money.

The $150-million was more than a loan, as it was convertible to equity and the terms gave AGC quasi-ownership rights to Camrose.

For the next two years, Gertler was hocked to AGC through Willcox-run Africa Management Limited.

During those two years, Gertler embarked on a series of controversial “grab and flips” of mineral assets in the DRC (see“Suspicion circles Israeli diamond maven who ‘understands negroes’”)

In these, Gertler (who denies all allegations) stands accused of using his connection with DRC president Joseph Kabila and the latter’s consigliere, the now-deceased Augustin Katumba Mwanke, to bag public assets cheaply and without tender, selling or part-selling them to established miners at great profit.

Greatest grab
In August 2010, Gertler perfected the “grab and flip” that would lead to the greatest outcry, that of the Kolwezi copper and cobalt tailings project from which Canada’s First Quantum Minerals had been bumped by the authorities after spending $430-million developing the assets.

Gertler brought Kolwezi into Camrose, his company hocked to Sexwale and his associates, before onselling half of Camrose to a mining major.

Only then -- and it is understood largely at the behest of Och-Ziff, which as a United States company has to be particularly sensitive to reputational risk -- did Sexwale and associates exit Camrose, transferring their loan to another Gertler entity under arms-length terms.

Were Sexwale or his associates complicit in Gertler’s “grab” of Kolwezi? There is no evidence to that effect, but their involvement in a similar and simultaneous stunt suggests they were not simple bystanders.

Oil blocks
In June 2010 and without any notice or tender, Kabila signed two Lake Albert oil blocks, already sold to Irish and South African concerns, to two entirely opaque companies, Caprikat and Foxwhelp, both newly registered in the British Virgin Islands.

South African presidential nephew Khulubuse Zuma initially claimed to be the owner of both, but fingers pointed at Gertler.

Zuma Jr has since disappeared off the scene and the DRC oil minister confirmed Gertler’s involvement two months ago.

The M&G revealed Sexwale and Willcox’s own proximity to Caprikat and Foxwhelp in 2010, when it showed that the addresses the companies used as legal domicilium belonged to Mvela Holdings and a Sexwale charitable foundation.

At the time, Willcox denied he, Sexwale or any associate had financial interest, saying he had simply given “strategic advice” to Zuma Jr.

Willcox is known to have been involved in subsequent attempts to onsell the oil blocks to oil majors -- arguably the flip after the grab.

There is no evidence he has done this by dint of ownership, but the facts suggest that Willcox, and Sexwale by extension, knew exactly what Gertler was doing. — Additional research by James Wood

- M&G

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

People are sick and tired

IT IS the same old story. Politicians are playing their usual blaming game while the community is up in arms demanding service delivery.

That is what is happening in Western Cape.

According to a recent report on service delivery protests Western Cape is the leader of the pack when it comes to the number of such protests.

But instead of dealing with this reality the Democratic Alliance-led government is accusing the ANC and its Youth League of stoking the fires.

Last week at a pressconference DA leader andWestern Cape premier Helen Zille told the media hergovernment had called on the State Security Agency toinvestigate the "seditious threats" issued by some Youth League leaders, who threatened to make the province"ungovernable".

Now Cape Town mayorPatricia de Lille is blaming the service delivery protests on the failure by ANC councillors in the DA-led province tocommunicate the city's policies to their constituency.

Essentially De Lille wants the public to believe the service delivery protests ravaging the province are all due to "a lack of communication".

As expected the ANC councillors have come out with guns blazing, accusing the DA oframming decision down down their throats and ignoring inputs aimed at dealing with the affected constituencies.

The unfortunate reality is that while the two parties are playing their political games the city is burning because the people are unhappy with service delivery.

The DA, like the ANCwherever it is in power, must stop blaming the victims - accusing them of being political tools - and deliver.

These parties must stophiding behind the amorphous "third force" or "uncooperative officials" and implement theprogressive policies they always crow about when their service delivery record is questioned.

This country has been known to have some of the mostprogressive and democraticpolicies. It is however common knowledge that its Achilles heel has been the failure to implement these policies.

The people of Western Cape and many others throughout the country are sick and tired of being given excuses such as "a lack of capacity", whenever they demand that their rights to basic services like housing , water and electricity be respected.

What they want is a qualitative improvement in their lives.

That is what they expect of the much-talked-about new South Africa.

ECape builds houses for destitute

Eastern Cape human settlements MEC Helen Sauls-August has approved new guidelines on the quality of houses built for destitute people in the province.

A total of 1,000 destitute families would benefit from the current financial year, Sauls-August said in a statement this week.

“In most cases the beneficiaries are pensioners, unemployed, child headed and homeless which then make it impossible for them to build their own homes,” she said.

“These beneficiaries are dominantly elderly rural women.”

There were already houses which had been built and handed over using the new guidelines.

Houses built through the new guidelines made provision for the internal and external walls plastered, waterborne sewerage, bathroom internal, sanitation or alternative sanitation.

They would include a rain water tank, apron, solar geyser, floor tiling, PVC, fencing of the entire yard, ceiling and specified roof covering.

These houses would be designed to be user-friendly to disabled people.

Greening would also be done on the houses.

These guidelines did not apply to general RDP houses and were only for destitute people.

Sauls-August said the backlog of destitute people on housing stood at 4,000.

She said destitute people did not have livestock, depended on other people and were vulnerable to erratic weather and other shocks. - Sapa

Sunday, August 19, 2012

‘Angry at empty election promises’

Cape Town - In the wake of last week’s violent service delivery protests that at one stage saw the N2 closed, residents of the Barcelona settlement in Gugulethu spoke to Weekend Argus to explain why they intend to keep on protesting.

Two of the protesters, both aged 21, chatted about what they saw as the reason for the violent protests. Neither wished to be named.

“We want houses, we live now in shacks with old people who get very sick from this weather. We just want to be like other South Africans who have a warm roof over their heads,” one said.

They said the community’s anger had been fuelled by the empty promises made by politicians during election time. “They come here for two days and then give us food and blankets, but then where must we put this stuff if we do not have a house? We are sick and tired of these empty promises.”

When asked why the protests were violent, they said if the protests had been peaceful, they would not have got a response.

“When we protest we know that if we just march then we will get no response. But if we break something important like road signs or robots then the police and government will take notice of us.

“It also shows that we are serious about the protests and it also forces them to come out here.”

They said during the protests last week, police drove in the streets shouting for people to return to their homes while firing rubber bullets in their direction, and this had damaged the relationship between the community and the police.

“The police cannot come and tell us to go to our houses in the middle of the day, they are not our mothers. They are not allowing us to fight for our rights and that is not right.

“That is why even now when we are just standing around and a police van comes past we throw a stone at them. The police do not resolve any problems here, all they are doing is making things worse.

“We are very sorry for the deaths and injuries as it was not our intention for anybody to get killed. However when you take part in a protest you accept that something can happen to you and you have to be careful, but once again we are sorry innocent people were hurt.”

Another resident of Barcelona spoke of the anger she felt towards the city authorities for spending on projects other than housing.

“They continue to build parks and plant trees but then our children get raped in the parks.

“They can spend that money on houses for us.

“They do not need to build the houses but they can come give us building materials or something.”

She said the City Council had done things to help the community, such as providing electricity, but far more was needed.

“When it is elections then they want us to jump to the voting booths but then after we vote they leave us. They just take what they want from us and then leave.”

Mzwakhe Nogqala, a community leader from Barcelona, said: “As you know we are living in this terrible area for over 20 years and we are fed up with it.”

He said the protests would continue until the community were respected as human beings. “We are not going to stop until we get what we want. We are embarrassed by the fact that nobody from the DA or the ANC has come to us, even after the protests last week.”

The community believed that protests were the only way to get heard after making many pleas to the government, including a letter sent to the housing MEC in June.

“We do not expect them to just come and start building houses, but we at least want them to come and speak to us so that we can be in the picture. My eldest daughter is 20 and she grew up here, it is not a nice place to raise a child.” 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Why Cape Town has erupted and what we can do about it

On the evening of Friday 3 August thousands of Khayelitsha residents were nearing the end of the long and difficult bus journey that city workers endure twice a day. As one of these buses turned off the N2 highway onto Khayelitsha’s Mew Way, it was pelted with stones. The driver – 67-year-old Sandile Hoko – was killed instantly.
The bus ploughed through four shacks before coming to rest. Daniel Sass, who was in one of these homes, would die five days later. At least twenty-five others were injured. On Monday night, Xolela Poncho died when he was forced to jump from his truck when it came under similar attack. The fifth and most recent death was that of Nhlanhla Ngalo, who died on Wednesday two weeks after the bus crashed through the shack in which he was playing. He was 22 months old.

These tragic deaths have been attributed to service delivery protests that have spread rapidly in recent weeks. There has been much heated speculation about who should take responsibility for inciting the protests, but little analysis of the conditions that allow such protests to flourish. There has been even less reflection around how detached many privileged Capetonians are from these conditions – for whom the peak of public frenzy came not with the massacre on Mew Way, but when the N2 highway was blocked for a few hours. Probing these issues raises difficult but necessary questions about the duality of life in Cape Town, and what needs to be done.

Two decades into democratic rule, approximately sixteen million South Africans live without access to basic sanitation facilities – a damning indictment of our failure to meet early promises of a better life for all. In Cape Town today, a million people live in informal or inadequate housing on the city’s inhospitable periphery. At least half of these people have no access to basic sanitation facilities. Between 2002 and 2009 the number of city households in informal dwellings did not decrease – but increased by 100 000. Basic service provision to these communities is grossly inadequate due to lack of planning, monitoring and in some cases maladministration and corruption. Meanwhile, quality of life in the inner city and surrounding suburbs compares with the best-developed cities in the world.

The thirty kilometers from Cape Town to Khayelitsha along which Sandile Hoko drove his bus could well be three thousand. They are different worlds where life seemingly holds different values. While crime in the inner city has decreased by 90% over the past decade, crime in Khayelitsha is on the rise. The murder rate – the most reliable indicator of violent crime – has increased every year for the past three. Residents have lost faith in the police to keep them safe and the courts to provide justice. Criminals feel that they can act with impunity. Fear for safety has lead to a spike in mob vigilantism resulting in at least fourteen deaths by necklacing over three months.

Children sent to schools with the hope of securing a better future find not a place of learning and security, but rather a gang warzone where young “gangsters” fight with screwdrivers, pangas, knives and guns. During the past month thousands of children have stayed home from school for fear of being caught in the crossfire, while others had to flee to the Eastern Cape.

When children are not at school, they must play in overcrowded and under-served slums amongst heaps of uncollected rotting waste in pools of excrement and wastewater. In a relatively affluent 21st century city, it would be scandalous for a single child to die from diarrhea. Over the most recent diarrhea season in Cape Town approximately 27 children died from this entirely preventable illness.

Thousands of informal settlement residents have been displaced in recent weeks during one of the wettest winters Cape Town has seen in a decade. Families have lost everything they own in floods and heavy rains. In summer, the floods are replaced by fires. Hundreds of homes can be destroyed before flames are extinguished, as emergency personnel are unable to penetrate communities due to lack of accessible roads.

Residents are becoming increasingly frustrated. According to research commissioned by the City of Cape Town and conducted by market research company TNS, Khayelitsha is the only district in the City where overall satisfaction with local government has decreased between 2008 and 2012.

Some believe that the only way to vent this frustration and get government to acknowledge and address concerns is through protests that block roads, burn tyres, and in some cases violently destroy public property. They are not always wrong about the effectiveness of achieving at least half of this desired outcome. We saw last week that blocking a highway can make national and international headlines and induce at least some form of a response from government. Whether this tactic succeeds in prompting significant shifts in policy and budgeting is another matter.

Speculation around the cause of the protests has generally revolved around two explanations. They are said to be either “politically motivated”, or driven by “general service delivery concerns”. These two explanations are presented as mutually exclusive, but in reality they are not. Politicians (elected and aspiring) and community leaders tend to opportunistically feed on genuine anger to push their agendas. People do not face rubber bullets and tear gas unless they feel strongly about something and are utterly desperate. It is difficult for those living in a warm home to understand this desperation. A Khayelitsha resident noted recently that “only when you spend weeks in a shack with freezing water up to your ankles will you understand why people turn to violent protest”.

The ANCYL has received much of the blame for the protests. In a memorandum delivered on 1 August to Premier Helen Zille the Dullah Omar Region branch threatened to make Cape Town “ungovernable”. The day before Sandile Hoko’s Golden Arrow bus was attacked, ANCYL Regional Committee member Loyiso Nkohla is reported to have threatened to target Golden Arrow busses if the demands of the memorandum were not met.

The ANCYL subsequently distanced itself from direct involvement in these protests. Whether or not this is true, it does speak to the inherent danger of initiating populist campaigns of “ungovernability”. Once initiated, they tend to spread organically and become impossible to coordinate or control. It is unlikely that the League has been responsible for every protest, but it is no coincidence that in the two weeks following the call for ungovernability five people have been killed and many more injured as a direct result of protest action. The ANCYL must take some responsibility for this.

A vacuum in leadership has further exacerbated the protests. Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille has claimed that the “protests are not about service delivery problems” and that there is “no merit in the claim that the City is not delivering to the poor and vulnerable”. This has contributed to added antagonism amongst residents whose lived realities are being denied. Anyone who has spent time in Khayelitsha – as De Lille has – knows that residents are living in unbearable conditions. The Mayor and others have not done enough to illustrate an understanding of the suffering experienced by Cape Town’s poorest on a sustained basis but particularly over the past month of harsh winter conditions.

The protests will subside – as they have before – but the crises will persist. As the headlines fade, those privileged enough to reside in the Cape Town we see on the cover of travel magazines will likely forget that a million people continue to struggle in otherworldly conditions. This is an unsustainable situation in need of radical change.

Firstly, we must insist that our leaders lead. This means listening and meaningfully engaging – not talking at – communities, and must happen on a sustained basis and not just before elections or when people resort to throwing stones. Occasional public meetings are not enough. Communities need to be actively included in budgeting, planning, delivery and monitoring. This will never be done effectively unless politics is set aside, and government officials – including councilors, the Mayor, Premier, and other leaders at all levels of government - work hand-in-hand.

Secondly, Capetonians need to fundamentally change how delivery is prioritized in this vastly unequal city. Things are as they are not for want of capacity, but because we accept it. Until middle class Capetonians accept that squatting in a bush to relieve oneself is more outrageous than road closures, our city will continue to fester. It is time for all of us to take responsibility.

Gavin Silber is the policy coordinator at the Social Justice Coalition

‘We will shut down the airport’

Cape Town - Residents of informal settlements in Gugulethu have threatened to shut down the N2 and cut off traffic going in and out of Cape Town International Airport.

On Thursday, residents from ward 40, which includes Europe, Kanana and Barcelona, announced details of an operation dubbed Siyaqhuba (“moving forward” in Xhosa).

Community leaders will SMS the key word “Siyaqhuba” to the community who will mobilise and head to the N2 and the airport.

 “By closing down the airport we will be hitting the city where it hurts. International investors won’t be able to enter the city and tourism will take a knock. We have been calling on MEC for Human Settlements Bonginkosi Madi-kizela and Premier Helen Zille to listen to our grievances, and they don’t listen… this is the only solution,” said community leader Thanduxolo Themba.

But Zille said that making these threats was a crime and any attempt to carry them out would be met with the full force of the law.

Another community leader, Mongami Mbele, said their main needs were houses with decent toilets. “We are in pain from living in shacks that are stripping us of our human dignity. It can’t get worse than this,” he said.

Thursday’s meeting at the Barcelona informal settlement was also attended by the ANCYL Dullah Omar region members Menzi Manyonga and Loyiso Nkohla, who were invited by the community leaders. At the meeting they rubbished claims by Zille and Mayor Patricia de Lille that they were responsible for the wave of protests that have hit the Cape in the past two months.

Mbele denied that they are driven by the ANCYL or any political party to protest.

Zille said the most effective way to destroy jobs, increase unemployment and poverty and chase away new investors was for violent protesters to close down a highway and cut of the city’s airport.

Police spokesman Warrant Officer November Filander said extra police and other law enforcement have been deployed around the city to monitor protest hotspots, including the N2 along the airport area for a possible eruption.


Protest before Sexwale hand-over ceremony

While a group from Langa celebrated, a group from Gugulethu protested as Human Settlements Minster Tokyo Sexwale handed over 300 housing units in Joe Slovo this week.

For over an hour before Sexwale’s arrival at the Joe Slovo Phase 3 handover, a disgruntled group of about 100 residents from Gugulethu provoked the Langa residents waiting to get keys to their new flats.

The Gugulethu residents were upset because houses were not being delivered in their area.

Police kept a close eye on the singing and dancing inside the marquee set up for the handover ceremony and Sexwale’s advisor, former Western Cape housing MEC Richard Dyantyi stepped in to address the gathering in a bid to calm the situation.

However, the two contingents only quietened down when Sexwale arrived and assured the crowd he was the housing minister for everyone in South Africa.

He said the turn would come for those not receiving houses yesterday, as the government wanted to ensure that all poor people got decent housing and warned that party politics should not be used to divide people ahead of development.

“No politics should be played with development,” he said, highlighting that the national, provincial and local government were working together to make the Joe Slovo housing project a reality.

“This is not the money for DA, it’s the tax payers’ money,” he said, pointing out that although the ANC and DA may fight in politics, the parties worked together when it came to development.

He emphasised that the housing unit was a lifelong asset to the recipients before taking a tour of the 300 units.

Beneficiary Grace Ndiki, 62, said she had lived in a shack for the past 20 years but would now live between brick walls with her four grandchildren.

“I feel happy. I feel warm. I thank the government for helping me get a house,” she said.

Joe Slovo community leader Mzwanele Zulu said he was impressed to see people getting houses but warned that the housing list needed to be revised as there were new people on the list who residents weren’t familiar with.

Zulu was also concerned that there were 400 people whose status had not been determined and as such did not know whether or not they would receive housing.

David Gwanya, 42, who formed part of the aggrieved group from Gugulethu, said he had come to protest at the handover ceremony because where he lived in the Barcelona informal settlement, it was dirty, cold and people were getting sick.

The Joe Slovo housing project forms part of the government obligation to fulfil a 2009 Constitutional Court ruling that it needed to build houses for the Joe Slovo informal settlement residents. The residents had defied government’s plans to forcibly remove them to Delft to pave way for the planned N2 Gateway Housing Project. – WCN

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Breakdown of Cape Town’s poverty

Cape Town - Cape Town prides itself on being one of the best-run cities in the country, but scores of households are battling to feed themselves.

Buying food has emerged as a major problem for Cape Town’s poorest residents. This is one of the trends noted in the City of Cape Town’s draft poverty alleviation strategy.

When completed, this strategy will be used to compile an action plan, throwing a lifeline to Cape Town’s poorest residents.

Service delivery protests have caused chaos in the city over the past few weeks, and the draft strategy finds that service delivery remains a “prominent point of contention”. Yet it states the city’s provision of the most basic services is improving.

The data in the draft strategy comes from several sources, including Statistics SA, and draws on figures from city studies as well as the provincial and national governments.

It provides a snapshot of poverty in the city, which is home to around 3.6 million people.

This is the figure from the 2009 labour force survey from Stats SA. It shows the majority of the 3.6 million are coloured, at 46 percent, or just over 1.7 million. This is followed by black African residents at 38 percent, just over 1.3 million. And there are just over 540 000 white residents, making up 14 percent of the population. There are 14 000 Asian residents.

More than 36 percent of city households earn less than R3 500 a month.

The poverty scale shows very different situations for different races. The city’s draft strategy also uses the categories, white, black African and coloured.

The majority of the city’s residents, mostly coloured and black, are also the poorest. Coloured and black residents also have the lowest level of education. And some of the proposed employment plans will target this demographic.

It shows that 15 percent of households ran out of money to buy food in the previous year. This is dominated by coloured residents, with 23 percent. Fourteen percent of black households went hungry, while 4 percent of white households found themselves in the same position.

Unemployment varied widely between the race groups. The unemployment rate was 24 percent. And of the groups, black residents faced the biggest challenge with unemployment rates at 35 percent. Around 21 percent of coloured residents and 6 percent of white residents are unemployed.

However, white residents fared much better when it came to education. More than 90 percent have at least completed matric, while 39.9 percent of coloured residents and 39.4 percent black Capetonians attained their matric.

“When considering the attainment of higher and further education, assessing the difference between racial breakdowns of these statistics, there still remain clear distinctions,” reads the report.

The trend follows through when looking at how many people furthered their studies after school. More than half of Cape Town’s white population have obtained some kind of tertiary qualification.

This is compared to 11 percent among coloured residents and just 8 percent of black residents.

In housing, it was found the number of backyarders had climbed. It was suggested this was due to increased migration from other provinces, mainly the Eastern Cape.

The increasing population is also putting a strain on making a dent on the 400 000-strong housing waiting list. And the report admits that providing homes to a “rapidly expanding population is becoming increasingly unrealistic”.

It does, however, find that more Cape Town residents are accessing water, sanitation and electricity.

“Overall the city’s level of service provision remains one of its strengths,” states the draft strategy.

Now the city plans to use these numbers to draft a plan to assist those in need.

Some of the proposed projects include training residents in different trades. For instance, they would attend courses to become electricians, brick-layers and plumbers.

From here, they could start working for themselves or use their new skills to find employment.

“This programme is especially important in coloured and black communities due to the fact that a high percentage of individuals have not matriculated,” states the draft strategy.

Another possibility was giving food hampers to the “most needy” to deal with immediate problems.

The strategy is still being refined. And when it’s completed it will be launched by the city’s Social Development Department. It’s not immediately clear how this strategy will be different from other poverty alleviation methods in Cape Town.

The city declined to comment on the strategy, citing that it was still a “work in progress”.

De Lille: Don't blame me, blame your councillor

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille says there is no need for illegal protests when ANC councillors are meant to represent residents in government.

De Lille said there was no need for the youth league to foment illegal protests and genuine grievances should be addressed through the proper channels.

"All of these wards have been won by ANC councillors. The first thing a community must do, when you've elected a councillor and you have a grievance, is go to your councillor. The councillor takes up your grievance," she said.

De Lille said that the community's grievances could not justify the destruction of property, attacks on passersby and the deaths that had resulted from the protests. "It cannot be acceptable in a normal democracy," she said.

While De Lille said she accepted that inequality was a serious problem in Cape Town, she said it was unfair to single out the city from other South African cities.

De Lille has condemned the ongoing service delivery protests in the Western Cape as political and said the ANC "cannot accept" that the it is not in power in the Western Cape.

"These are not service delivery protests. They are illegal ANC-organised protests with the express purpose of destroying property," said De Lille.

On Tuesday De Lille and DA leader Helen Zille wrote to President Jacob Zuma asking him to condemn a "sustained and co-ordinated campaign" by the youth league over the last two weeks to incite violent protests in Cape Town.

Poor opposition
The party has submitted a dossier of evidence concerning the protests to law enforcement officials for investigation.

Over the past week, four people, including a toddler, have died as a result of the protests in the Western Cape. The demonstrations have also reportedly caused R5-million worth of damage and cost over R600 000 in overtime for law enforcement officers.

The DA said the youth league had "all but admitted" responsibility for the violence but that the only words that had come from the ANC were justification of the youth league's campaign.

Earlier this week Western Cape ANC chairperson Marius Fransman dismissed allegations that the youth league was behind the protests and said the protests were caused by a lack of service delivery.

But De Lille told the Mail & Guardian that the underlying issue was that the ANC cannot accept that it is not in government in the Western Cape.

"They cannot get used to being the opposition in the only province where they are not in charge," she said, adding that the ANC must "learn how to be good opposition".

"If you are good opposition, you hold the government of the day to account, you ask questions and bring up debates," she said.

Youth league denies involvement
Meanwhile, Khaya Yozi, ANC Youth League leader in the Dullah Omar region, said the youth league has been unfairly implicated in the protest action.

"We've got absolutely nothing to do with it," he said. "[De Lille and Zille] are tarnishing the name and image of the youth league. This is a strategy to defocus us from raising critical issues. They want to drag us to court."

Yozi said the youth league had called on individuals who are frustrated to refrain from using violence and to operate within the legal framework.

He added that when the youth league said it would make the province "ungovernable", it meant that members would march to the economic hub of the province to protest legally.

Yozi dismissed De Lille's argument that grievances should be escalated through local government channels, saying ANC councillors and representatives were constantly outvoted by their DA counterparts in portfolio committees and the City's mayoral committee.

"It's useless when those who are in power ignore [you]," he said. "The DA is only considering servicing those people who voted it into power."

"Madam Zille does not give a damn about our conditions here."

Delivery hotspot
The Western Cape has been a hotspot for service delivery protests this year. Almost a quarter of all protests in the country this year have taken place in the province.

Karen Heese of Municipal IQ, which has been tracking service delivery protests around the country, said protests in Cape Town have the same root causes as in any other metro area.

"High rates of urbanisation, which puts pressure on housing delivery and failing this, rapid growth of informal settlements where living conditions are appalling and especially so in winter," she said.

"Of course the Western Cape has a whole additional layer of racialised politics and contested inter-party tension and this I think has accelerated protests and violence in recent months.

Heese said that while the Western Cape has one of the lowest poverty rates in the country, it also has one of the highest levels of inequality, which creates a heightened sense of relative deprivation.

"In terms of free basic service delivery, Cape Town has always done very well," said Heese but "the spatial layout of Cape Town makes any investment in economic infrastructure, [that is] not on the Cape Flats, a conspicuous investment away from the poor".

This was exacerbated by the DA's poor credibility when communicating its long-term development plans to the poor.

However, Heese said, the ANC should be more circumspect in its criticism of Cape Town as the same conditions exist in other cities.

In a report on the state of the world's cities, UN Habitat found that the three most unequal cities in 2010 were Buffalo City in East London, Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni.

- M&G

ALT Begins First Residential Construction in Florida Utilizing Tradical Hemcrete

American Lime Technology, one of the foremost organizations in North America dealing with hemp and lime-based durable green construction products, has started its first green home construction using Tradical Hemcrete in Florida.

This green home that is situated near the coast will provide advantages to its occupants such as comfort, health, protection against pests and fire, durability, optimal power usage as well as shelter from strong hurricane winds as high as 123 mph. This characteristic one-family residence in Florida is a good example of green construction in the region.

Hemp and lime-based binder are applied on top of a traditional wooden framework. Lime render (breathable plaster without Portland cement) external coating will be applied straight on the Hemcrete walls. The inner side of the Hemcrete wall will be coated with a thin veneer of breathable unprocessed hydraulic lime stucco that will permit the aesthetic hemp aggregate pattern to be visible. The stucco will be spruced up with a lime wash color coating.

The promoter of this archetype Florida ranch style residence is Bob Clayton,a retired mechanical engineer with an inclination to promote durable green building practices. The model is a sample of green homes intended to be promoted across the state.

The Hemcrete and other wall and ceiling products are breathable, hygroscopic and fire-resistant. The use of only lime and unprocessed minerals in the building enclosure products ascertains that insects will be repelled by the surface and no VOCs will off-gas. The building process will abide by the Florida Building Code 2007 with Florida Building Code Supplements 2009 and Florida Fire Prevention Code 2007.

Zille wants Zuma to tackle ANCYL

Cape Town - Premier Helen Zille has asked President Jacob Zuma to condemn the ANC Youth League’s public pronouncements to make the city and province ungovernable.

Zille also announced on Wednesday that the provincial cabinet had directed the State Security Agency (SSA) and the police to investigate the recent violent “service delivery protests” in the Western Cape.

Speaking in her capacity as DA leader, Zille held a press briefing in Parliament on “the seditious threats of prominent members of the Western Cape ANC Youth League”. She was flanked by Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille.

Zille said she had written to Zuma. “My letter to the president follows direct threats by the ANCYL… and the subsequent sustained and co-ordinated campaign over the last two weeks,” Zille said.

“This is not the first time we have written to president Zuma… we have been warning the president for over two years that the league has spun dangerously out of control, and that he should act to defend the constitutional order and uphold the outcome of a democratic election in the Western Cape.”

Zille said Zuma had not responded.

“If the DA Youth league were acting like that I would not keep quiet. The president is absolutely silent,” she said.

“All we have heard from the ANC in [Parliament] is justification for the ungovernability campaign. I am not going to take this lying down.”

Zille said Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele and the provincial director of public prosecutions advocate Rodney de Kock had declined to investigate previous complaints in the face “of prima facie evidence”.

On Tuesday, the deputy provincial commissioner Major-General Peter Jacobs told the Western Cape standing committee on community safety that there was no evidence that the ANCYL was behind recent protests.

Asked about this, Zille said the police’s investigation was in its infancy. De Lille said all evidence had been handed to the police.

“We have given video tapes and written threats to the police and it is now up to them to investigate, identify the individuals responsible, lay the appropriate charges and ensure cases succeed in court,” De Lille said. “It is not up to the provincial government to do this.”

Zille called the evidence devastating and damning. “When a person goes to the police and says they have been raped, the police do not say ‘prove it’, they investigate.”

Asked if the protests were not service delivery protests, De Lille said they were “organised illegal ANC demonstrations with the express purpose to destroy property”.

“If people are allowed to break laws, the country is on a slippery road.”

Zille added that the protests “actually destroy services”.

“People have legitimate grievances and we are working to spend budget to deliver. The challenge is delivering to everyone… sometimes expectations far outstrip what the government can provide. We have a massively redistributive budget towards the poor. Every year we spend R1 billion on free water, free electricity, free waste removal for poorer areas. We have preferential funding of poorer schools and hospitals,” she added.

Asked if she would meet with the ANCYL, Zille said she would if and when they saw reason.

“I have said before that if the ANCYL is reasonable, they will get a reasonable response. It is not my job to make the ANCYL see reason. If president Zuma abrogates responsibility, it is not for me to pick it up. If the police and SSA fail [to act] it is not for me to pick up the baton,” she said.

In response to the DA’s statements, ANC parliamentary spokesman Moloto Mothapo tweeted on Wednesday: “Some media might buy DA propaganda that poor service delivery in Cape townships is figment of ANCYL’s imagination, but the poor on the ground won’t”.

Earlier on Tuesday, he said the DA’s reaction to the protests had a “strong whiff of ‘swart gevaar’ message of apartheid government when faced with resistance”.

The Cape Argus was unable to reach presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj and ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu after several attempts on Wednesday night.

Timeline of protests sweeping the Cape

The DA provided a timeline it claimed showed the ANC and ANCYL’s “ungovernability campaign” in Cape Town and the Western Cape since 2010.

Zille said the campaign started in March 2010 with former ANCYL president Julius Malema’s “Dubula ibhunu” hate speech case. Then it continued with the Makhaza toilet saga in 2010 and the Tafelsig land invasions in May 2011.

* 2012: Zille said there were threats to make DA councils ungovernable through a campaign allegedly led by ANC provincial chairman Marius Fransman called “Project Reclaim”.

* February 6: Affidavits were filed by DA councillors at Caledon Police Station detailing “bribery attempts” by an ANC task team in Theewaterskloof municipality to make DA councillors change parties and support the ANC

* March 5: Violent protests took place in Grabouw over the lack of facilities and overcrowding at Umyezo Wama Apile Combined School.

* March 12: Protests begin in Villiersdorp.

* March 30: SSA domestic branch provincial manager CM Mavata declines a request to investigate “the ANC’s illegal and unconstitutional project reclaim”.

Zille writes to Security minister Siyabonga Cwele and receives no response.

* July 27: Ungovernability campaign starts with a march and memorandum handover to the premier’s office. The memorandum was issued by the Dullar Omar ANCYL region “threatening to make city and province ungovernable”.

* July 30: Violent protest at Sweet Home farms early in the morning.

* August 1: Criminal charges laid by Zille and De Lille against ANCYL

* August 2: protests in Lwandle in Strand and Khayelitsha. Ward 90 councillor Luvuyo Hebe arrested for public violence along with 1 000 residents

* August 3: Golden Arrow bus stoned causing it to crash into six shacks in Khayelitsha. Driver killed, five people injured.

* August 5: R50 000 reward announced by Zille and De Lille for information on Golden Arrow bus stoning.

* August 7: De Lille meeting at OR Tambo Hall disrupted.

* August 10: Sections of N2 blocked near Nyanga and 62 people arrested.

* August 12: Mayor prevented by ANC and Sanco from addressing Sir Lowry’s Pass community

Municipal IQ states ANC behind service delivery protests in the province and City Press reports rival ANC factions in other provinces causing protests.

* August 12 to 13: Protests in Khayelitsha and Philippi.

* August 14: ANCYL Dullar Omar regional secretary says that some disgruntled league members might be involved in the violent service delivery protests.

* August 15: DA MP Debbie Schafer asks ANC in National Assembly whether they support league’s statements. No repudiation from ANC. - Source: DA

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Woman moves in District Six development illegally

An interdict and illegal occupation charges have been brought against a District Six claimant who “invaded” one of the new properties being built.

Rosemary Jacobs, 41, moved in as “restitution for the destruction of the original suburb by the apartheid government”.

Jacobs, who said her grandparents were forcibly removed, and is on a list of verified beneficiaries, also wanted to “expose corruption in the process of restitution”.

Jacobs, along with Tania Kleinhans from the Institute for the Restitution of the Aborigines of SA (Irasa), says that claimants are being “ripped off” by the District Six Beneficiary Trust.

Kleinhans said beneficiaries are being asked for money they do not have to receive their properties.

Last year, the trust said 1,060 claimants had been verified and would get three-bedroom homes worth about R1 million each in the new development. Claimants would be asked to contribute between R50,000 to R225,000 towards their homes. Claimants would not be allowed to sell their homes for at least 15 years.

“I have been on the waiting list. I have moved in on my own with my children. I broke the door and moved in on Monday. The police came here several times threatening to arrest me,” Jacobs told the Cape Argus.

Gary Ludwig, a beneficiary who has paid and moved into his property, claimed he had not received legal documents showing he owns the property.

“I live here and they would not let me move in without paying. We were granted restitution and banks won’t bond the houses. Where do they expect me to find the money? There are many empty houses because people cannot afford to pay,” he said.

District Six Beneficiary Trust chief executive Nas Ally said Jacobs had jumped the queue on the waiting list.

“She should be ashamed of herself. She broke in and invaded a house that has been allocated already. She must wait in line like everyone else. She has a birthright, just like a 1 000 others. There won’t be a free for all,” he said. Ally said 17 people have moved in already.

The plans provide for a total of 5,000 houses. Surplus houses will be available to the public to rent. The money would be used to make up the rest of the finance for claimants’ homes and to sustain the development once it is completed.

The government is providing seed funding for the construction of all claimants’ homes before money gets generated from the extra property. - Cape Argus

Tokyo fails to placate rioters

Yesterday Sexwale was in Langa township for the handing-over of the most recently completed houses of the N2 Gateway development.
But, instead of listening to the complaints of the protesting residents, Sexwale told a packed marquee that it was wrong to play politics when development was at stake.
Earlier, about 200 residents from informal settlements along the N2 sang Sexwale's praises, saying that he would take them out of shacks.
But their high spirits took a dive when the housing minister said those who were not on Cape Town's housing waiting list would not benefit from the latest phase of the N2 development.
"Those who are getting these houses, do not sell these houses. Do not rent them out," Sexwale told beneficiaries before the ceremonial handover.
Ntobethemba Samsam, who moved to Cape Town from Tsolo, in Eastern Cape, in February to live with her daughter in the squalid Barcelona informal settlement, said all she wanted was a home for her family.
"We came here to ask that Sexwale build houses for us. It's not nice living in Barcelona because we're constantly flooded," said Samsam.
Nolwazi Rona, who lives in the Kanana informal settlement, in Gugulethu, said she had gone to the ceremony to ask Sexwale to provide a house, but was ignored.
"It seems we will have to go back to the streets to be heard. No car will pass on the N2 until we've been heard," said Rona.
Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille have blamed the ANC Youth League for inciting the violent protests in some of the city's townships.
Youth league regional secretary Mfuzo Zenzile on Monday said some members of the league might be behind some of the violence, angry that Zille and De Lille had not responded to their memorandum of two weeks ago.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Politicians bicker in parliament over deadly Cape protests

Cabinet Ministers refused on Tuesday to bow to pressure to condemn violent service delivery protests in the Cape Peninsula.

Deputy international relations minister Marius Fransman, who is also Western Cape ANC chairman, told a National Assembly sitting that the protests in the Western Cape were as a result of a lack of service delivery.

He rubbished allegations from the Democratic Alliance and the Congress of the People that it was part of an ANC Youth League attempt to make the city ungovernable.

"The reality is if there's protest action in other provinces, then they say there are service delivery problems. In the Western Cape there are service delivery problems," Fransman said.

Tensions rose in the house when Fransman was heckled several times, prompting chairwoman Fatima Hajaig to intervene.

"If you want to shout and scream, I'll give you five minutes to shout and scream and then be quiet," Hajaig said.

Fransman went on to accuse the DA-led Western Cape government of implementing a skewed development pattern.

"The reality is if the premier of the province speaks of refugees, about black people, it shows what they are doing in this province," Fransman said.

"If former president De Klerk says homelands were not as bad a issue and people in Western Cape feel the brunt of that, that becomes a real problem."

Earlier in the house, both the DA and Cope criticised the African National Congress for not commenting on ANCYL calls to make the city (of Cape Town) ungovernable.

"The youth league threatens ungovernability (sic) in the morning and denies its involvement in violent protests in the evening," DA MP Debbie Schafer said.

She accused the Youth League of calling residents to protest by sms, pamphlets and loud-hailers at midnight.

"We know the DA delivers more than the ANC. If they can't win at the ballot box as a result of good service delivery, they render the province ungovernable by inciting violent protests," Schafer said.

Cope MP Alfred Kganare told the National Assembly the silence of the ANC could only mean its leadership approved of what the ANCYL was doing in the Western Cape.

"They (ANC) must not complain when what they are doing here happens in the rest of the country."

Police reports indicate at least one person had died since violent protests again erupted across the Peninsula from Sunday night.

The killing came during a protest in which a truck was torched in Khayelitsha.

"It is believed the deceased jumped from another truck, after it was stoned by a group of protesters. [He] died on the scene due to his injuries," said Warrant Officer November Filander.

About 350 residents of Khayelitsha's BM Section took to the streets on Monday morning to protest over houses and sanitation, forcing the closure of a section of the N2 highway.

They threw stones at police officers and passing vehicles, including five Golden Arrow buses. A bus driver was injured.

Cape Town protests turn deadly

Cape Town - A man has died, a truck was torched and another pelted with rocks and a section of the N2 closed as violent protests continued in Khayelitsha on Monday night.

“One driver was attacked by protesters in TR Section near Mew Way, but managed to escape,” police spokesman November Filander said.

Police later found an injured man near one of the trucks. “We don’t know whether he was hit by the truck or if he was attacked. He died shortly afterwards.”

The N2 between Spine Road and Mew Way was closed after vehicles were stoned and police used water cannons to disperse protesters. Police also fired rubber bullets when a protester fired live rounds at them, Filander said.

Khayelitsha community leader, Morris Sifo, said the attacks by demonstrators were sporadic. They disappeared between shacks when police fired rubber bullets and sprayed water cannons, he said

Earlier in the day major roads, including the N2, were gridlocked when eight separate protests erupted in Khayelitsha, Philippi and Sir Lowry’s Pass Village. Some were flare-ups of protests on Sunday night.

The city’s disaster management spokesman, Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, said protests began on Sunday after 9pm on the N2 near Mew Way, Khayelitsha, where tyres were set alight on the road.

An hour later, burning barricades were erected at the Lansdowne and Duinefontein roads intersection in Philippi. After the fire was extinguished and the authorities left, about 200 people scattered rubbish on the road.

Solomons-Johannes said police returned and fired rubber bullets to disperse the group. But the protesters regrouped on Weltevreden and Vanguard Drive where they stoned a Metro Police vehicle.

“At 4.30am, a lamp post was removed… The officers fired at the protesters. Three persons have been arrested by the [Metro Police] and another five by the SAPS for public violence,” Solomons-Johannes said. Mew Way and Bonga Drive in Khayelitsha were the epicentre of Monday’s daytime protests when about 350 people blockaded the roads.

The residents, from the BM Section, began their protest about houses and sanitation at 4am. They stoned vehicles and the police while rocks and tyres were strewn on the roads.

Sifo said residents had been living in dire conditions since 1987. “Our people struggle each and every day to make ends meet. Most of the people here [protesting] do not have jobs, but we try to make a living. It is not fair that we have to live in these conditions while other parts of the area receive continuous upgrades.”

Protesters stoned a train travelling from Khayelitsha en route to the city and set tyres alight on the tracks, forcing the train to stop.

“We will continue to fight for our most basic rights. [Premier] Helen Zille and [mayor] Patricia de Lille must stop blaming the ANC for all this. They have nothing to do with this,” Sifo said.

Near Sir Lowry’s Pass Village, about 80 residents placed tyres and rocks on the N2 shortly after 3am..

The residents were protesting about flooded shacks. Community leader Aubrey Mofama said they had given the city until Monday to respond to a letter they had sent to the city and province.

Filander said 10 people were arrested for public violence and would appear in the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

Golden Arrow Bus Services spokeswoman Bronwyn Dyke said a driver was injured when stones were thrown at his bus in Khayelitsha. Four other buses were also stoned. - Cape Argus