Cape Town - Mayor Patricia de Lille has condemned violent protests in Macassar, Mew Way and Kosovo, saying that the destruction of municipal property has already cost the City of Cape Town R21 million in the current financial year.
She has also called on the national government to take responsibility for the relocation of families from land owned by the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral).
“There is no justification for vandalism and thuggery,” she said during her mayoral address at Wednesday’s council meeting. “What hinders us in our efforts are those political instigators who use human misery to drive their agendas, destroy city property or blame the city for the actions of state-owned companies.”
She said the city had video footage showing that the people who destroyed the container toilets in the Kosovo informal settlement in Philippi were wearing Ses’Khona T-shirts.
“What more proof do you want?”
With each toilet costing R4 000 to erect, the protest action and vandalism by this group had already cost the city R500 000.
A total of 114 toilets were destroyed last Saturday and on Monday.
De Lille said the contractor responsible for the container toilets had laid charges with the police.
“This project started in February. If the community was so unhappy, why are they only protesting now?”
The city has already installed 500 portable 100-litre toilet containers in this area, and the handover of the final 250 were imminent.
“Unfortunately in certain areas the topography of the land means that we have to look at alternative solutions, such as container toilets.”
She said the facilities were installed after “extensive” consultation with the community or the ward councillor. But the ANC argued at yesterday’s council meeting that there had been no consultation.
Ernest Sonnenberg, mayoral committee member for utility services, said later that the minutes of community meetings indicated that councillors did attend, but had deliberately not signed the register.
De Lille said she had written to Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to find out on what grounds she had appointed a commission of inquiry into the Lwandle evictions by Sanral.
“I would suggest that the national ministry explore the motivation of Sanral, which is a state-owned company, to better understand why these evictions took place.”
De Lille said the whole debacle harked back to Sanral’s decision to build a toll road in the Winelands.
Residents were evicted from Sanral land earlier this month during a wet and cold spell, sparking an outcry.
Both the city and the national government weighed in on the matter, with De Lille and Sisulu reaching an agreement that 234 structures could be re-erected on the land, and that those who qualified for housing would be accommodated at a housing project in Macassar next year.
But the next day, the city issued a statement that placed the responsibility for erecting the structures with Sanral. De Lille said the city could not allow people who occupied private land “to jump the queue” when there were already 400 000 people on the housing waiting list.
The court order (to evict) was issued to Sanral, not the city. Although the order was granted in January, Sanral waited for the coldest day at the start of winter to evict people. It is an agency of national government and therefore it must take responsibility for Sanral’s mess.”