Protesters cause mayhem on Mew Way
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Cape Town - Part of Khayelitsha erupted on Tuesday morning as protesting residents burnt tyres, stoned a bus, attacked a provincial government worker and clashed with police.
Residents from S section, took to the streets in protest over a general lack of housing and an apparent breakdown in relations with the City of Cape Town’s Human Settlements portfolio.
Protesters burned tyres and barricaded Pama Road and Mew Way in the early hours before clashing with riot police.
At dawn the fires had been extinguished and police were monitoring the scene. The smell of tear gas hung in the air.
After a period of calm, protesters regrouped in a side street and attacked a Golden Arrow bus.
Young men stoned the bus as commuters scrambled for the exit and ran for safety.
By the time police arrived, the trashed and abandoned bus was idling in the middle of Thandazo Street.
Lulama Matiwane, an HIV/Aids liaison staffer for the Western Cape government, was attacked when he inadvertently drove to the corner of Pama and Kusasa roads where protesters were burning tyres. He escaped after being hit on the head with a stone, which left a big gash. The car was burnt.
Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut said no arrests had been made and police continued to monitor the scene at Pama Road.
Local residents spoke to the Cape Argus about their frustrations over the lack of housing and services.
Thembeka Gqawuza, 40, moved to S section in 1997 and lives in a two-roomed shack with her husband and six children.
She was prevented from going to work at Century City because of the protests and feared she would get a warning from her employer.
Yet she said sympathised with her more militant neighbours who mobilised at 3am and trashed the road outside her shack.
“I can’t do that, but I understand why the people resort to these tactics. I do not feel endangered by the protests… it is the police sent by the government to suppress us that we fear,” she said as a rag protected her nose and mouth from the teargas.
“I have to stay at home to ensure that my children are not harmed by the cops.”
Lebogang Bulane, 30, gave the Cape Argus a confused rundown of meetings and failed engagements with the city’s Human Settlements portfolio. The recent cabinet reshuffle, apparently bringing officials into the portfolio who had no knowledge of this history, was a tipping point for the community.
“We have played the ‘official’ game with meetings and paperwork and lists. Now we are done with that. Nothing has changed since I moved here as a child in 1995.
“The police open the road, they think that we’re done. But we are just having breakfast. These protests are far from over.”
Gqawuza said other than the lack of proper housing, a shortage of toilets was the S section community’s other big grievance.
The Human Settlements portfolio had not responded to queries by the time of publication.