Vi­o­lent protests as res­i­dents vent anger over poor de­liv­ery of ser­vices

Daily News - - NEWS - SAKHILE NDLAZI

MAYOR Solly Msi­manga of Tsh­wane has been given un­til noon to­day to ad­dress dis­grun­tled Eer­sterust res­i­dents over hous­ing or “all hell will break loose”, res­i­dents threat­ened yes­ter­day.

This comes af­ter vi­o­lence broke out yes­ter­day when Eer­sterust was put on “lock­down”. Up­set with what they said was slow ser­vice de­liv­ery in their com­mu­nity, res­i­dents bar­ri­caded roads to vent long-stand­ing griev­ances, which they said con­tin­ued to fall on deaf ears.

Con­stant elec­tric­ity cut-offs, high rates and taxes, wa­ter re­stric­tions and flawed RDP pro­cesses count among the is­sues res­i­dents are an­gry about.

Hun­dreds of res­i­dents held protests from 5am, which saw all en­trances on Stor­mvoël Road blocked, stones hurled by res­i­dents and rub­ber bul­lets fired by po­lice.

Res­i­dents who tried to get to work were turned back, but school­child­ren were given a free pass in and out the town­ship.

The City sus­pended its morn­ing Mamelodi Bus Ser­vice op­er­a­tions in Eer­sterust be­cause of the vi­o­lence.

Protests in­ten­si­fied through­out the day. Po­lice re­tal­i­ated with rub­ber bul­lets and tear gas when pro­test­ers hurled rocks, smash­ing the win­dows of po­lice ve­hi­cles, and also strik­ing some jour­nal­ists.

Law en­force­ment was forced to beef up num­bers and a mas­sive con­tin­gent was brought in, which in­cluded mem­bers of the SAPS and metro po­lice.

The chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer from the City of Tsh­wane, James Mur­phy, tried to ad­dress the pro­test­ers, but they were hav­ing none of it. They called for Msi­manga, who promised to be with them at 2pm but he didn’t pitch.

Pro­test­ers said they had run out of pa­tience with Msi­manga and wanted to see houses built.

Shaun Wil­liams, from Nantes, said: “My chil­dren are now aged 7 and 16, and they can no longer stay with us in one bed­room. We would like to have a house of our own.”

Lamiez For­tune, another res­i­dent, said: “We want houses. All they are giv­ing back­yarders are taps.”

Com­mu­nity leader Nov­ina Pil­lay said coloured peo­ple were de­fined as a com­mu­nity with­out land and thus ser­vice de­liv­ery was poor.

“Our is­sues are hous­ing, marginal­i­sa­tion and a lack of eco­nomic as well as com­mu­nity up­lift­ment. Our po­lice sta­tions… our kids don’t get place­ments there; our health cen­tres, clin­ics… our kids are not get­ting place­ments there. It’s a pure act of marginal­i­sa­tion by the cur­rent regime, and it’s an old is­sue,” she said.

The po­lice fired rub­ber bul­lets and tear gas to try to dis­perse the crowd. Youths burnt rub­ble and tyres along Stor­mvoël Road.

Some res­i­dents claimed that cor­rup­tion had in­fil­trated the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, ac­com­pa­nied by nepo­tism and the flout­ing of pro­cure­ment pro­cesses. Oth­ers com­plained about the lack of job op­por­tu­ni­ties. They said it was a fail­ure to recog­nise coloureds as a le­git­i­mate com­mu­nity.

A res­i­dent, who only wanted to go by the name of Keet, said the cur­rent and pre­vi­ous regimes had ig­nored the com- mu­nity for the sole rea­son they were coloured while com­mu­ni­ties around them were be­ing up­lifted. “We still don’t have houses af­ter so many years; why is this the case when de­vel­op­ment is hap­pen­ing all around the city?”Res­i­dents had been told there was no bud­get for hous­ing de­vel­op­ment in Eer­sterust, he said. “We refuse to be ha­rassed. We won’t back down un­til our de­mands are met,” Keet said.

City spokesper­son Selby Bok­aba said the City had ac­com­mo­dated Eer­sterust res­i­dents in Nellmapius Ex­ten­sion 22. It had asked all those reg­is­tered on the Hous­ing Data­base dur­ing 1998-99 to go to Mamelodi Mini Mu­n­i­to­ria to com­plete the sub­sidy ap­pli­ca­tion forms, a process that is un­der way.

“One of the chal­lenges we face is that some res­i­dents do not want to move out of the area, and that is not how hous­ing and ser­vice stands al­lo­ca­tion is done.”

PIC­TURES: OUPA MOKOENA/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

Dis­grun­tled Eer­sterust res­i­dents vent their frus­tra­tions over the lask of ser­vices by block­ing all the main en­trances with boul­ders and burn­ing tyres.

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