ONE of the people injured in the Hangberg clashes welcomed a “peace accord” signed yesterday, but warned that if promises were not met, residents would take the city to court.
Delon Egypt was one of several people who lost an eye in the conflict a year ago. The 23-year-old said he was happy that there was finally an agreement on the table.
“But if they don’t keep their promises, we will take them to court,” he said.
Last September, several residents were injured when the city’s anti-invasion unit moved in to demolish structures built on the slopes of the Sentinel. Some had been built on a firebreak. The land belongs to SA National Parks (SANParks) and the city.
Violence erupted, with residents hurling stones at law enforcement officials, who fired rubber bullets in return.
Yesterday, SANParks, the city and residents’ representatives signed the Hangberg “peace accord”.
In an address, city mayor Patricia de Lille said it had been decided that residents living above the firebreak would move temporarily below it and eventually back into Hangberg.
“Those who move beneath the firebreak will be encouraged to move into areas that we can provide services to before they move back into the Hangberg community below the sloot,” she said.
The sloot is a drainage channel built by the city to divert water from the occupied part of Hangberg into the sea
In June, De Lille promised to transfer 60 city-owned “row houses” in Hangberg to residents.
Yesterday, she said the transfer would take place as soon as legal processes were complete. Other residents would move into new houses as soon as they were complete. The agreement also provided for a service delivery programme.
The Sentinel would be incorporated into SanParks and managed as a national asset.
The agreement will not affect the civil suits filed against the city by people injured in the conflict last year.
Egypt declined to speak about the day that he was injured. He acknowledged, however, that he harboured anger towards those who caused the loss of his eye.
“This is a new process to help the people. They have made promises before and nothing happened. I just want them to give us what we deserve and I will be satisfied.”
Shanaaz Halim, whose husband, Ikram, also lost his eye during the protests, said she had mixed emotions.
She was relieved the agreement had been reached. But the incident had marked a difficult period for her and her family.
“At times I felt caught in the middle between my husband and whoever was involved in the loss of his eye,” said Halim.
Yesterday, those present were confident that the Hangberg Peace and Mediation Forum represented the majority of the residents. About 30 residents serve on the forum.
De Lille urged those present not to allow “enemies” to derail the process. “There are always those whose interests are served by promoting illegal behaviour and unrest. They are enemies of peace. But we will not be deterred by them.”
Premier Helen Zille described the events of a year ago as a “great tragedy”.
“I often think about what we could have done to avoid it... but it has moved us forward, giving leadership to a divided community.”
Zille acknowledged that most would probably never forget. “It is alive every day. It will live with many of you, especially those who were injured, for the rest of their lives,” she said.