NGO condemns violent service delivery protests

Sanco KTC Lumkile Msila, chairperson of the Phakhama Community Health organisation, Thembalethu Qolo and Loyiso Nkohla, head of community liaisons at the City of Cape Town.

Vandalism of existing infrastructure and the blockade of roads is a common way of show dissatisfaction in service delivery protests.

However, Phakama Community Health Organisation is on a mission to change this practice, which often leaveS communities in chaos.

On Friday June 8, the organisation held a community dialogue with Loyiso Nkohla, head of community liaisons at the City of Cape Town and Ntuthuko Social Platform Organisation, in an effort to urge residents to find alternative ways of voicing their anger.

A group of FEWER than 50 residents gathered at the offices of the organisation in KTC to offer their suggestions and raise concerns.

Chairperson of the organisation, Thembalethu Qolo, said such behaviour did not benefit the community.

He said they wanted to give residents a platform to state reasons for their actions during service delivery protests. .

Mr Qolo said the aim of the dialogue was to have a meaningful engagement with the residents about ways of protesting.

He said they were concerned about the damage to infrastructure during protests.

He said they wanted residents and the community leaders to establish other progressive methods and ways of ensuring that government addressed their complaints.

“It is a painful sight to see community centres being vandalised and stoned in a protest for houses,” said Mr Qolo.

“Why demolish something that has nothing to do with what is being demanded? It is not nice to see rubbish bags being discarded on our streets.

“The same streets that we walk on and our children play in.”
Mr Qolo said recent protests in Gugulethu, where roads and pavements were damaged, were some of the disturbing examples.

“We need to ask ourselves, who drives on these roads? Is it not us?” he asked.

Resident Mluleki Andries said government’s failure to respond timeously and complete failure to respond to their needs forced people to resort to such actions.He said community leaders and residents often put together grievances but no one took them seriously.

Mr Nkohla, who made a name for himself through the Ses’Khona People’s Movement and who is now working for the City, said residents had used protests as a way of getting government’s attention.

He said there was nothing wrong with protesting, but pointed out that there was no justification for violent protests such as demolition of community facilities.

Mr Nkohla said one of the reasons people resorted to violence was the lack of meaningful engagement between government and the community.

“We need a government that engages with its people on a regular basis. We need a government that fulfils its promises and mandate. But the residents need to channel their grievances through the right way,” he said.