Cape Town - "Siqalo residents and the broader Mitchells Plain communities are not enemies of each other but rather have common grievances and it can only be resolved if we work together along the lines of non-racism and non-violence."
This was one of the outcomes of a meeting between various associations, who met at the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) offices in Athlone, Cape Town on Thursday over the recent Siqalo protests that on Wednesday night turned deadly.
Mogamat Tauriq Mohamed, 20, died when a taxi ploughed into him during protests outside the Siqalo informal settlement.
Several residents were also injured on Wednesday night when the protests on Jakes Gerwel Drive became violent again.
The protests and related violence, along Jakes Gerwel Drive between the R300 and Highlands Drive, have flared intermittently since late Tuesday night, because the City of Cape Town had not responded to a letter demanding service delivery to the area, which is on privately-owned land.
The protest turned violent when it spilled onto Highlands Drive and protesters started looting an ATM at the petrol station and burnt a fruit and vegetable stall to the ground. Residents retaliated by throwing stones at the protesters and shots were fired.
Traffic services closed off sections of Jakes Gerwel Drive and the roads leading into it, for several hours, on Wednesday, causing severe traffic congestion in and out of Mitchell’s Plain.
On Wednesday night the violence flared again and several residents were injured during scuffles with the police, who set off stun grenades and opened fire to disperse the crowd.
Also read: Protesters set shop and ATM alight in Mitchells Plain
On Thursday the MJC, Housing Assembly, Siqalo community representatives, Al-Azhar Primary school, Hawkers against Crime, Mitchell’s Plain United Residents Association (MURA), South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), Imaamat Council of Mitchell’s Plain (ICOMP) and the Water Crisis Coalition (WCC) had an 'amicable and fruitful meeting' where they discussed and looked for resolutions.
"Fundamentally it is the failure of the City of Cape Town to provide housing and services for residents -- which is at the heart of the protests. The City knew about conditions in Siqalo for the past 7 years; they were aware 2 ½ years ago that the owner of the land was prepared to sell it to the City or swap it for alternate land," the MJC said in a joint statement.
The organisations called on government authorities to act fast on the scourge of drugs in the area and called for an end to violence and vigilantism.
"We resolve as follows: Re-affirm the decision by the Siqalo community since Wednesday 2 May to suspend their protest to allow urgent talks between community representatives facilitated by the MJC (SA) and jointly take the broader community’s grievances to the City of Cape Town.
"The Siqalo and Mitchell’s Plain United Residents Assocation (MURA) and other community organisations will urgently meet to work out a joint programme of action in a united front.
The City of Cape Town has also condemned the violent protests in Siqalo.
"The City cannot tolerate the wanton destruction of property, whether public or private. There is no need to resort to the type of violence that has characterised this protest and others."
On Thursday, senior officials concluded a third meeting with the leaders of Siqalo to discuss the community's grievances.
The City stated that is not in a position to purchase the land parcel.
"It should be noted that the City already provides relatively comprehensive services to the community," the City said in a statement on Thursday afternoon.
"These services are provided on privately owned land which limits the City’s ability to provide services. Some 2 291 structures are currently erected on this land parcel and, beyond weekly refuse collection and the provision of taps on the periphery of the settlement, the City also services 200 chemical toilets and 2 000 portable flush toilets in the informal settlement. The provision of further services such as electricity are hampered due to the private ownership of this land which makes it illegal for the City to install bulk infrastructure.
"The City is furthermore, unfortunately, not in a position to purchase this land parcel but can confirm that ongoing negotiations for alternative solutions are currently under way."
The City said it has, however, allocated R713 million to be spent by the City’s Informal Settlements and Backyarder Department on backyarder service provision and the Informal Settlements Upgrade Programme over the next three years.
Another meeting with the Siqalo resident has been arranged by Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela for Saturday.
"At this meeting, the City and the Western Cape provincial government will present a package of potential solutions to both communities which includes the proposal of alternative land parcels for the relocation of Siqalo residents and residents of some other surrounding informal settlements," the City said.