Cape Town - Tyres were burned, roads were closed and a motorist was stoned during two housing protests on Thursday.
About 2 000 residents of Illingelethu in Malmesbury went on a protest march to the Swartland municipal offices, demanding houses, land and better services.
They handed over a memorandum of grievances and gave the municipality seven days to respond. The group had marched down Darling Road singing Struggle songs while a police Nyala and traffic officers escorted them through the town.
A community leader, Thembile Mvovo, who handed the memorandum over to a municipal official, said: “We are demanding houses and better services for those who live in informal settlements. We want land to build homes and the municipality must service it.”
Illingelethu resident Thandi Dyanti, 60, has been living in the settlement for 22 years. She joined the protest because “there had been no municipal services since 1994”.
“You don’t see development in our area. The development of business and municipal buildings and services are mostly given to the white people and those with money. It is unfair. Our protest was peaceful, but we will increase the number of people here.
“The municipality must remember our frustrations will soon boil over,” she said.
Swartland municipality mayor Tijmen van Essen said the council would look at the residents’ grievances.
“They want land and houses. The land that is available within the municipality is either owned by us and earmarked for development. We cannot give them private land,” he said.
Van Essen said the municipality’s housing waiting list stands at 13 000.
“It would be unfair to just give protesting residents a house. If they are not registered, then they cannot get a house. It would also be unfair if we give houses on demand from protesters. There are people that have been waiting for homes since apartheid,” he said.
While the the march was peaceful and Public Order Police monitored the crowd, police spokesman Lorencial Johnson said an incident of malicious damage to property was reported after a motorist’s vehicle was damaged on the N7 freeway.
In a another protest, residents of Elsies River burned tyres and blocked streets with rubble. It was the second day in a row this had happened.
On Wednesday, a group of protesters, angry about the allocation of new houses in the area, had damaged a fence and burned tyres inside the Leonsdale Housing office in Elsies River.
Resident Isaac Esau said: “The houses were meant for us and now people from other areas are taking it from us. This is wrong. We are not done protesting. We want our leaders here and attending to our problems now.”
No one was arrested and police remained in the area to monitor the situation