Marikana – a war zone

Several vehicles were destroyed after they were torched in Marikana.

Residents were injured, vehicles were torched and water tanks destroyed during a service delivery protest in Marikana this week.

During Monday’s violent protests, a truck, bakkie and six JoJo tanks belonging to Goal supermarket, a Golden Arrow bus and three private vehicles were set alight. Residents torched three taxis again on Tuesday June 25.

All roads leading to Marikana were closed as residents barricaded them and when Vukani arrived at the scene, the area looked like a war zone, with empty rubber bullet cartridges strewn across the ground. Residents were scattered around in groups while others hid themselves between the shacks, throwing stones at police officers.

There was a heavy police presence and the situation remained volatile.

The residents claimed that all they wanted was electricity and flushing toilets. They told Vukani that towards the end of last month they had marched to the provincial legislature in Cape Town to raise their demands with recently elected Western Cape premier, Alan Winde.

Community leader, Xolani Tukwayo, said the residents were frustrated and angry because they felt that their concerns had been ignored.

He said the City of Cape Town had taken them to court in a bid evict them but they lost the case and had been instructed to buy the land so that they could provide these critical services.

But the City was appealing this judgement, he said.

“We want electricity and toilets. We have connected electricity illegally from other areas. People have been killed by these illegal electricity cables. We can’t live like dogs.”

“Thepremier never responded to our memorandum of grievances instead he extended the deadline. Now, we heard that he came to do a site visit without informing us and addressing the things that we wrote to him about. If they can’t provide these basic services they must say so,” he said.

Goal supermarket risk manager, Jaco Nel, said most of their staff and customers lived in the community and that for as long as the shops remained closed, they were losing money.

He urged the community leadership to beg the residents to stop damaging their properties.

Philippi police spokesperson, Captain Bheki Xulu, said a case of public violence and damage to property had been opened at the station.

He said 14 residents had been arrested for public violence and would appear in court in due course.

Mr Winde’s spokesperson Bianca Capazorio, described the situation in Marikana as a “deeply complex one”, as the land is privately owned and the 60 000 strong community of Marikana, had developed on invaded land. “Despite this, we have been willing to engage with the community and its leadership in order to find a solution,” she said.

She confirmed that the matter was the subject of a Supreme Court of Appeal case which would be heard on Tuesday September 3.

Ms Capazorio said the province and the City were in talks about how best to resolve the issues raised in the memorandum residents handed to the premier last month.

The demands outlined included that the Marikana land be bought or expropriated, as well as the provision of electrici ty, full flush toilets and access roads.

“Premier Winde responded in writing on June 10, informing the community that government is eager to address service needs in the area, but that the ownership of the land, which is currently privately owned, would need to be resolved first.

“The Municipal Finance Management Act indicates that no services can be installed by government on private land. Mr Winde has requested a meeting with the City of Cape Town in order to see how to take the matter forward with them, the national Department of Human Settlements and with the private land owners,” she said.

Golden Arrow Bus Service (GABS) spokesperson, Bronwen Dyke-Beyer, confirmed that one of their buses had been set alight by protesting residents and said GABS condemned the “senseless act”.