Protesters fail to halt air traffic

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malawi camp protest INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Burning tyres send up thick black smoke near the airport. Photo: David Ritchie

Police were deployed along the perimeter of Cape Town International Airport on Monday after protesters from the Malawi Camp and Freedom Farm communities set piles of tyres on fire hoping the thick pall of smoke would disrupt air traffic.

The Freedom Farm community borders the airport.

Airports Company of SA spokeswoman Deborah Francis said the burning tyres placed against the periphery fence were extinguished.

No damage had been caused to property.

“None of our operations were affected and all our flights and operations ran smoothly,” Francis said.

Earlier, motorists were diverted from Modderdam Road after residents set traffic lights on the Stellenbosch Arterial intersection alight and threw rocks at passing motorists and police.

Police used stun grenades to break up the protest over demands for housing that has flared intermittently since last week.

As tensions in the Malawi Camp area settled, residents of Freedom Farm gathered to demand homes.

Local councillors, who have been trying to resolve the standoff, say they are trying to find out why people, who have lived there for over 20 years, are still without houses.

But Asa Abrahams, councillor for Ward 24, which includes Freedom Farm, said she also wanted answers from the community.

She said that even though 331 out of 505 families who had been assessed as needing houses had been given houses in Delft, a recent survey showed that the list of those needing houses had grown to 547 families.

“We want to know how this happened.”

City officials had met with officials from the provincial department of human settlements to discuss the matter. She said there would be an investigation into how the situation came about and the results would be presented to residents during community meetings in the area.

Karen Nissen, a community leader in Malawi Camp, said their councillor, Jermayne Andrews, had said she could meet them only on Wednesday, which angered residents.

Andrews, councillor for Ward 22, said she had tried to go to the area on Monday morning but the police would not let her through.

Cape Argus

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