Battle of Sir Lowry’s Pass
MAYOR Patricia de Lille has the next few days in which to come up with answers for angry Sir Lowry’s Pass Village residents who threw stones at police and motorists. They also tried to burn down the local satellite police station by lobbing petrol bombs at it.
Hundreds of residents protested yesterday and on Wednesday, demanding service delivery in an area they claim has been ignored by the City of Cape Town for the past 10 years.
Seven people were arrested as the clashes escalated yesterday.
Now De Lille, who managed to calm residents, will return to the area on Sunday with Premier Helen Zille and the ANC chief whip in the Cape Town council, Xolani Sotashe.
Yesterday residents blocked Sir Lowry’s Pass with tree stumps. Protesters also burned rubbish.
De Lille and Sotashe addressed residents yesterday afternoon.
“I listened to their complaints and will be going back to the area on Sunday with Mr Sotashe and the Premier (Helen Zille) with answers to some of their complaints,” said De Lille.
She said the residents had complained about the housing shortage, lack of waste removal and other service delivery issues.
“I called the contractors immediately to come and clean the area.”
She said the residents had also complained about a lack of response from their councillor, Johan Middleton, to their requests for better services.
“I am having a meeting with the councillor tomorrow to inform him about the complaints from the community,” said De Lille.
She said the residents had promised to stop their protest action.
Sotashe said he had kept a promise he made to residents yesterday morning to bring De Lille to address them and promised to be at Sunday’s meeting. “We asked them to stop burning tyres and we will meet again on Sunday.”
For two days residents pelted police with stones. Police, in turn, fired tear gas at the mob.
One of the police vehicles had to be towed away after it was damaged by petrol bombs.
Another group of residents tried unsuccessfully to hit the police station with petrol bombs, but all of their attempts fell short.
A car that was parked outside the station was damaged in the process.
Two Independent Newspaper vehicles were also broken into.
Police spokesman Colonel Andre Traut said seven people had been arrested in connection with yesterday’s violence.
When the protest started on Wednesday, residents said they were marching in solidarity with the Rastafarian community in the area who were living in poor conditions.
The Cape Argus visited the community and found Kevin Oliver, 28, in front of his home.
Oliver’s shack, and those nearest to him, are surrounded by water even though it has not been raining.
The water reaches their doorstep and they have to step over bricks to walk out of their homes.
Little children, some barefoot and some in boots, played in the dirty water while neighbours cooked food on a fire close to their home.
Oliver said the place had been like this since he moved here 15 years ago and that one of his children had asthma as a result of their living conditions.
“My floor is always wet and it sucks up water. We have to sweep the floor at least twice a day and it gets worse when it is raining.”
Another resident, Ashwin MacDonald, 25, lives with his girlfriend, Petulia Nel, 24, and their children – Ashleen, five, and Jessie, 18 months. “We can’t even get out of the house and we have to change the kids four or five times because they are always wet.”
MacDonald said they had been promised houses for the past 10 years but nothing had come of it.
“All we want is for our kids to be happy and not to have to wake up and walk in the mud.”
Middleton said they had counted 55 households who lived on the floodline and they had to be moved immediately.
“We are planning to move them in the next four weeks before the rains. But if it rains tonight, then we’ll move them tonight.”
He said the residents would be moved, with their shacks, to an area with water and sanitation in four weeks’ time.
Middleton also promised that they were planning to make space for a Temporary Relocation Area (TRA) for 200 households.
“This area will have water, sanitation and electricity. We are waiting for the new budget at the end of May because we need R1.3 million to buy a cable that will supply power from Eskom to the area.
“We do not have the money for it at the moment and we are still in negotiations with Eskom.”