Angry protesters shut down Khayelitsha

Police officers remove debris from the road.

Four Golden Arrow buses, a truck and a car were set alight during a violent service delivery protest in Khayelitsha last week.

The protest was organised by Intlungu yase Matyotyombeni Movement (Pain of the Slums).

All roads linking Khayelitsha to the N2 were blocked with burning tyres and rubbish, causing massive traffic congestion on Thursday November 12.

Some residents could not go to work while pupils writing exams were unable to attend school.

Members of the movement have in the past three weeks protested outside the Khayelitsha Training Centre, demanding basic services for the residents who built shacks on vacant land during the national lockdown.

The movement’s representative, Mabhelandile Twani, said they want the City to provide them with proper toilets, running water and electricity.

He said the movement opted to protest because they felt that their plea for services has been constantly ignored by the City.

He said they have been living in these informal settlements for more than six months without toilets and other basic services.

“We see ourselves treated as outsiders or not people who belong to South Africa. We are treated as animals, under the difficult coronavirus period. We do believe that we are under attack by the City of Cape Town and Parliament. The City of Cape Town must stop their applications for court interdicts against us. We are determined to do everything in our power to raise our issues. We don’t have tools and weapons to fight the state but we have our souls and bodies,“ he said.

Mr Twani said the movement was established this year and their protest started at 3am.

Richard Bosman, the City of Cape Town’s executive director for safety and security, said the directorate was alerted to the protest in the early hours on Thursday.

He praised officers for trying to bring the protest under control as roads were closed off to protect motorists.

Mr Bosman said a traffic patrol vehicle was damaged as it was stoned but the officer was not injured.

Golden Arrow Bus Services spokesperson, Bronwen Dyke-Beyer, confirmed that four of their buses were set alight and each bus costs approximately R2.4 million to replace.

Ms Dyke-Beyer said they pay extremely high insurance premiums because they are high risk but even so it still costs them between R700 000 and R1 million to replace each bus for the portion that is not paid by insurance.

“In total we have lost 12 buses this year. Although the cost implications are very serious, our biggest concern is the effect it has on our passengers. We had matrics trying to get to school who were late for their exams and people having to walk long distances to catch their bus and then being stuck in traffic. Our passengers must be able to travel without the fear of our buses being targeted and we are calling on government and SAPS to intervene decisively. Also, people can get very badly hurt in these situations and it achieves nothing for those committing the act,” she said.

Chairperson of Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF), Ndithini Tyhido, said they condemned the violent protest.

He said blocking roads affected the same people who were protesting.

However, he criticised the City of Cape Town for refusing to have meetings with the community and listen to their grievances.

Mayoral committee member for human settlements, Malusi Booi, said the City had been communicating for months that it was unable to provide immediate services, if at all, for all newlyformed settlements.

Golden Arrow Bus Services is offering a reward of up to R200 000 for information leading to the arrests and conviction of the perpetrators.

Information can be shared confidentially via 0800 11 11 67.