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‘Apartheid barriers’ rejected by residents

Cape Town - The City of Cape Town plans to effectively box in Siqalo informal settlement by erecting concrete barriers to separate the community from Vanguard Drive.

Residents, who had hoped Monday’s meeting with mayor Patricia de Lille in Colorado Hall would be an opportunity to engage “peacefully” with the government about the “terrible and unhealthy” conditions in which they live, are against the move.

A scuffle breaks out between Mitchells Plain residents during a meeting with Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille. Photo: Henk Kruger. Credit: Cape Argus

The meeting descended into chaos when a scuffle between Siqalo and Colorado Park residents, who want Siqalo demolished, came close to blows.

Siqalo residents have protested on numerous occasions in recent weeks, blocking Vanguard Drive with burning tyres and rubble.

The city maintains the barriers are not in response to the protests but to prevent vehicles turning off Vanguard Drive to access the informal settlement.

“This is unacceptable,” said resident Mandisi Ngcwangu who was at the meeting on Monday night. “We feel the city is not listening to us and supporting a group of people who want us gone.”

This “group” is a residents’ committee from Colorado Park and surrounding areas. On Saturday, they picketed in Vanguard Drive under a banner saying: “Hoot if you want Siqalo relocated!”

They have the support of local ward councillor Natalie Bent.

At the meeting with De Lille, they reiterated concerns over the protests which led to major traffic disruptions.

Mitchells Plain police cluster commander Jeremy Vearey has accused the group and Bent of “aggravating racist and classist polarisation”, which could lead to violence and intimidation.

Colorado residents’ claims that Siqalo had led to an increase in crime in the area were unsubstantiated, he said. Mitchells Plain and Lentegeur police said Saturday’s picket was illegal and boycotted Monday’s meeting.

Bent responded to Vearey by saying she had “no control” over what picketers wrote on their placards.

Lundi Silolo who spoke on behalf of Siqalo at the meeting was booed and jeered by Colorado Park residents

The meeting broke down after a row between the two camps.

“These barriers are not about traffic,” said Ngcwangu. “For us, it is a clear sign the city is trying to separate us from the richer areas, a move which is being supported by the councillor.

“It is just like apartheid and it will make our lives difficult because we have to access that side to get to the train station and for kids to get to school.”

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