Just over a week after local government elections, angry residents of Mfuleni informal settlements were up in arms, burning rubbish and barricading roads in a protest over housing and electricity, on Thursday August 2.
The residents said they were fed up with their ward councillor Themba Honono, who had been re-elected as a ward councillor, accusing him of making empty promises and failing to provide them with land to live on.
About 50 residents who live in Nyakathisa, Bololo, Strong Yard and Constantia informal settlements barricaded several streets with rubble and vowed to continue until their demands were met.
They claim that they have had been forced to beg residents who live in formal houses to allow them to use their toilets – but sometimes they are denied the use of them.
Nokwazi Lindo said she had been living in the informal settlement of Nyakathisa for more than a decade and nothing had been done to develop their area.
She explained that they don’t even have electricity and they had been forced to make illegal connections in neighbouring communities where residents charged them exhorbitant amounts for this “service”.
Furthermore, she said, it’s only last year that the City connected communal taps in the area, but it has not yet installed communal toilets.
She added that they had voted in the elections with the hope that local leaders would address their demands or at least provide them with development plans for their area. Ms Lindo said all they needed to was to be moved to land where they could build houses.
“We are paying about R500 a month for electricity to the people we connected from and if you don’t pay, they disconnect your wires without asking you first.
“Some of us are not working and others are dependent on the social grant.
“We have also discovered that some of the people that had benefited from Mfuleni housing developments are not from here but from Khayelitsha and other areas. And they benefited from these projects because they bribed certain people they know,” she claimed.
“We felt that as residents we needed to do something to raise our concerns and it seems that the only language these leaders understand is a protest.
“Our ward councillor came to us after he was told that we were protesting and he promised to get back to us. We are tired of the empty promises we need to see a change and we have just voted for them. They need start working for the people not for their families,” she said.
Communication officer at Mfuleni police station, Captain Nomathemba Muavha, said no properties had beendamaged during the protest, except for the roads where tyres had been burnt. “A case of public violence was opened but there were no arrests made, “ she said.
Mr Honono said although the informal settlements were not part of his ward, he had intervened when he saw the residents protesting. He told Vukani that even though the area does not fall under his ward he assisted the residents last year when they complained about not having communal taps and made some inroads to ensure that they were provided with water.
Mr Honono said he understood the frustration of the residents and would ensure that service delivery was improved.
“A by-election would be held to choose a ward councillor for the area and the reason that I have been engaging with the residents is because the area belongs to the ANC. And as an ANC leader, I needed to step up and show leadership to the people who have elected us,” he said.