Cape Town - Firefighters were chased out of Esibaneni informal settlement near Mfuleni as more than 10 temporary toilets were torched by residents during a service delivery protest on Tuesday.
About 300 residents took to the streets demanding a project to relocate them be stopped because the area was “unsuitable”.
The protest was organised by Ses’kona People’s Rights Movement – a group of activists from informal settlements.
Esibaneni residents said the city had ordered them to move to sites called Phase 5A and 5B, but that the sites were not properly developed.
They burnt tyres and dumped rubble into the streets. One group moved the bucket toilets together and set them alight. Police used stun grenades to disperse the crowd.
Ses’kona activist Advocate Tshayela said: “We stopped operations in these projects about a week ago. The city moved people from one informal settlement to another. How can they say people who share a piece of a plot are backyarders?
“We want to know why they relocated people to a place that has no water and sanitation. Even the roads are not finished.”
“This goes on to show that the City of Cape Town does not care about us. How can you not have bucket toilets emptied for three months? There are no services here, yet people were relocated here,” he said.
Plumes of smoke could be seen as more toilets were burnt.
Esibaneni resident Mandisa Mohale said: “We will continue protesting because we are being treated like dogs. We will never back down because we are fighting for our rights. There is no way we will allow this to happen. Our children are suffering from diseases due to these stuffed toilets.”
Ses’kona leader Andile Lili said: “Last week I was there and there was a crisis in that area. How can they relocate people in a place that has no services?”
Lili said Ses’kona would march in the CBD today to demand better services.
Police arrested Tshayela and another Ses’kona member, Thobile George, for public violence.
Police spokesman FC Van Wyk said the protesters were warned, but had refused to disperse and police used stun grenades to disperse them.
The mayoral committee member for human settlements, Tandeka Gqada, said: “The city views the allegations made in a very serious light and will investigate the allegations levelled as a matter of urgency.”