Protesting Vrygrond residents on the march. File photo: African News Agency/ANA
Disgruntled Vrygrond residents slammed mayor Patricia de Lille as they marched to the Civic Centre, demanding basic services.

De Lille rejected their accusations, saying the City had launched several initiatives to assist residents.

The residents, supported by the Social Justice Network, voiced their grievances about a number of service delivery issues. They claimed insufficient provision of services resulted in their basic needs not being met, and became impatient when told that a City official would accept their memorandum of grievances on behalf of De Lille.

The mayor eventually appeared and was greeted by slurs and insults.Nonkosi Fodo of the Vrygrond Community Development Forum accused De Lille of provoking the residents by undermining them.

This was despite De Lille having had meetings with community leaders in the past few weeks in an attempt to find a solution to their problems.

“They (City officials) are politicising the whole issue because our community is one of the oldest informal settlements in the Western Cape. But because we are not DA-run, nothing is being done for us,” Fodo said.

“They are proud to tell us they have given us roads, but we don’t have schools, a hospital, police station and houses, to name a few. ”

Some residents attempted to loot vendors and one person was arrested. De Lille said she had met with the development forum on three occasions over the last two months to discuss service delivery concerns, and all the City proposals were rejected by the forum.

“Officials from my office also made a site visit to Vrygrond in May accompanied by the forum, which was the fourth engagement we had with the leadership forum. This visit was made to show the Vrygrond leadership three pieces of land which could be developed for the benefit of the people of Vrygrond.

“We also commissioned a survey to establish the number of backyarders in the area and, with the assistance of the forum, the City employed Vrygrond residents to conduct the study.”

She said it was made clear during engagements with the forum that the land at the centre of the protests was near an active landfill site which could not be closed.

However, the City had recommended tests to determine whether the buffer zone there could be extended.

“They have threatened to shut down the landfill site, which services the whole of the City of Cape Town. The forum wants the City to allow residents to settle on the buffer zone, which is there to keep a safe distance between the residential area and the landfill site.

“The landfill site poses potential risks to human beings close to it due to the gas being extracted there.

“It has also been communicated to the leadership forum that the process to deproclaim the buffer zone falls under the ambit of the national and provincial governments. The problem is, the community leaders want to hear what they want to hear.”

Responding to the demands for a hospital and a police station, the mayor said the provincial and national governments provided such services.