Dunoon protesters set sights on Killarney track
DUNOON residents have their sights set on the Killarney racetrack land, and have given the city 21 days to give them permission to move on to it, or to find them alternative land.
This latest threat was issued yesterday morning after violent clashes between protesters from the Dunoon informal settlement and police had forced authorities to close the N7 and Potsdam roads.
Thousands of Dunoon residents took to the streets, causing traffic chaos that saw hundreds of Capetonians arrive hours late for work.
Police spokesman Captain Frederick van Wyk said police used rubber bullets and stun grenades after protesters had pelted officers with stones.
“There have been no arrests, but a public violence case has been opened,” he confirmed last night.
The march, led by the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco), was to highlight issues of housing, sanitation, and safety and security, among other concerns, said the Sanco secretary in Ward 104, Bulelwa Mayende.
Mayende explained that residents believed that the Western Province Motor Club lease at the racetrack was due to expire, and they wanted to be accommodated on the land.
“The Western Province Motor Club should not have its lease renewed while we live in less than desirable conditions. We want the municipality to ensure that they give us land for housing,” she said.
The community had been waiting a decade for decent housing, and they were angry, Mayende said.
“There is an overwhelming number of people in this area, and there has been no direction regarding a housing solution. There has not even been talk of identifying land, and yet there is a track where cars and people who do not live in this community make a noise for those of us who live here.”
Mayende added that the community had also identified Wolwerivier land, near Dunoon, as another area where housing could be provided.
Lenox Nogqala, 48, who has been living in a shack in Dunoon since 2002, said he was sick of waiting. “People are getting houses in other places but we have been neglected. I have been forced to keep my two children back home in the Eastern Cape because my home is not suitable for us all.”
Ward councillor Lubabalo Makeleni said the area was a “time bomb”, adding: “The community has been discussing these issues – housing, sanitation, crime, safety and security, sports and recreation facilities – for a long time, but the pending eviction order for residents of the Siyahlala informal settlement and a cancelled meeting by the mayor triggered the protest.”
The city would have to explain to the community why they could not occupy the Killarney racetrack land.
“As councillors we keep being asked that question, but we do not have the answers,” Makeleni said.
Western Province Motor Club spokesman Adrian Pheiffer said, however, that their lease was not set to expire any time soon. “We have another 12 years to go. I have no idea where people could have gotten that idea from. It has never been discussed, and the council is well aware of how much time we have,” he said, adding that the club was negotiating a renewal of its lease.
“The land is not about to be available any time soon, definitely not. We have been at Killarney since 1949. When we moved in there it was dirt and bush, we built it up since then. There was nobody in Table View, Table View hardly existed then. That’s why we think we are entitled to remain there,” Pheiffer said.
Tandeka Gqada, the city’s mayco member for Human Settlements, said her office was not aware of the imminent expiry of the lease.
The city was, however, considering various options concerning the acquisition of pockets of land around Dunoon.
“Although there are no new housing projects at Dunoon, mainly because of scarcity of land, the city’s human settlements directorate has several ‘upgrading of informal settlements programme’ projects that are listed. Doornbach, which is in Dunoon, is mentioned in the Integrated Development Plan document,” Gqada said, adding that Killarney and Wolwerivier were not being considered for housing.
LAND THREAT: Hundreds of protesters from the Dunoon informal settlement on the march yesterday morning.