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Cape Town - At least two sets of traffic lights were trashed by protesters on Eisleben Road in Philippi this morning when residents from Marcus Garvey informal settlement took to the streets for a second day.
Thanduxolo Makana, a community leader and resident, said about 700 protesters descended on Eisleben at 1.30am. They burned tyres, toppled road signs, blocked the road with rubble and destroyed eight traffic lights.
By mid-morning, city law enforcement was still diverting traffic from Eisleben as solid-waste management workers cleared the road.
“They can clean but tomorrow the same thing will happen. And the day after that. The residents will not stop until their demands for land and better conditions are met,” said Makana.
The protest was a response to a breakdown in meetings with the council human settlements division, Makana added.
Last year, Marcus Garvey residents marched to the Civic Centre and handed a memorandum to human settlements director Seth Maqetuka.
In it, residents expressed concerns over their living conditions and petitioned the city to make land between Stock Road and Mitchells Plain available for a housing development.
“We are being told that all the land is already reserved or owned by someone else. But all we can see is that it is standing vacant,” said Makana.
Marcus Garvey lies beneath an Eskom pylon, a fact which apparently excludes parts of it from the possibility of legal electrical connections.
Taila Mqokozo, who has been living there for 10 years, said illegal connections, which were a fire hazard, were the only alternative for most of the shack dwellers.
“I live right beneath the pylon lines. When it rains they buzz, they make a big noise and it concerns us because we know that it is dangerous,” he said, pointing to a weak point in one of the cables above his roof. “If that was to break it will cause a fire and chaos.”
Other grievances are lack of running water and sanitation, crime, and piles of rubbish.
Mqokozo complained about a string of ward councillors who had come and gone without addressing the residents’ concerns.
A meeting between a local councillor and the residents was scheduled for on Tuesday
Maqetuka was in a meeting and could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print.