Fire fails to force councillor out
Cape Town - A Philippi ward councillor whose offices were torched has defied residents calling on him to quit, saying he will not step down.
Thembinkosi Pupa of Ward 80 in Philippi said Phantsi kweCingo informal settlement residents were upset because officials from the Human Settlements Department had delayed a re-blocking project in their community.
Pupa said R460 000 had been allocated to the re-blocking project to move the Phantsi kweCingo residents living under power lines.
On Friday around 8pm, when Pupa was at home with his family, residents marched to the building that housed his offices.
“I received a call from my personal assistant informing me that the office was on fire.”
The gates to the offices had been pushed down, and the the reception area and the two offices inside the building were in ashes.
“They first smashed the windows and then threw petrol bombs inside. Two computers in my offices are burnt and the community social worker’s office was also set alight.”
Pupa said three days before the fire, residents had confronted him about the re-blocking delay and said he had three days to respond.
On Monday, Phantsi kweCingo residents took to the streets, burning tyres and barricading Lansdowne Road.
Pupa said: “No work can be done until all this is repaired.”
But community leader Philasande Foyi said residents were tired of being “made fools”. Pupa was not delivering on any of the promises he had made the community prior to his election in 2011.
“There is no development in this area. We have tried to talk with him but he keeps making excuses. We are living under electric poles… but he does not seem to care. All he cares about is himself.”
Foyi said said he had lived in the informal settlement for 15 years, and in all that time there had been no progress. They wanted their own electricity boxes.
“We have to illegally hook electricity to nearby houses, paying up to R400 for the connection, and this is money we do not have. This is why people are angry.”
Earlier this year, a DA proportional representation councillor Nceba Hanana, also from ward 80, was stabbed several times in the back allegedly by a community member outside the council offices after a council meeting.
Alida Clem, spokeswoman for the Speaker of the City of Cape Town, confirmed the fire. She said the matter was being investigated and no formal complaints had been received against Pupa.