Durban — Residents in Phoenix plan to close off entry and exit points to the community on Monday, as they take their protest against the eThekwini Municipality’s water cuts to the streets.
The action is likely to affect workers and schoolchildren.
Mervyn Reddy, a pastor and the public relations officer for the Voice of Phoenix (VOP), a group formed by community activists in 2022, said the demonstration was to highlight the residents’ frustration with the lack of service delivery.
Despite Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda holding two press briefings regarding the ongoing water issues, including one in Phoenix on Saturday, the protest would still go ahead, said Reddy.
“We will continue with the planned shutdown unless the mayor has a magic wand that he raises and our taps will get water uninterrupted. This past week Phoenix had major water interruptions that upset the day-to-day running of ratepayers’ households, residents going to work and kids going to school. They woke up to no water.
“These ongoing outages started to get the better of residents and they became frustrated and angry as no one was giving them the desired answers as to what was going on,” he said.
Reddy said the water supply was suddenly shut off to homes with no notice or warning.
“Residents who are on the VOP group were calling for a protest as they had reached a dead-end and needed to raise their cry for help publicly. A survey was sent out via the VOP community group and we initially said that if 500 people were for it then VOP would help them facilitate and co-ordinate this for the people.
“We will assist with logistics so long as it is a peaceful demonstration and they must not damage our infrastructure as this will adversely affect all residents that utilise our roads and surrounding areas.
“So it was the people that wanted this and it is the people who will lead this, so that the municipality must know that Phoenix will be standing united going forward and we will take them on in terms of service delivery challenges going forward,” he said.
Reddy said the protest would affect those going to work or school on Monday.
“The protest will affect us similarly just as water affects all of us as residents. We need to do this. It’s now or never for Phoenix. We have been on the receiving end of service delivery challenges for far too long.
“Employers need to understand the plight of their employees who don’t have water when they come to work and also those that don’t have water when they return home. It has to be the employees’ right to dignity and their right to water which is a humanitarian crisis over any employer’s profit. This is a constitutional right to life.”
He said many respected stakeholders had been made aware of their peaceful protest.
“We have marshals that have been briefed on how to handle challenges that might be other than peaceful. But we are confident that although the people of Phoenix and surrounding suburbs are frustrated and emotionally drained, they will exercise a peaceful, non-violent protest. We are after all a loving, family-orientated and giving community,” said Reddy.
Security groups along with the Metro police and Community Policing Forum (CPF) have confirmed that they will be on high alert.
“Metro hasn’t received any information about the protest but if any legal or illegal action takes place, we’ll be in attendance to make sure everything is safe,” said Boysie Zungu.
Mark Nadasen, a spokesperson for the Phoenix CPF, said: “The CPF will not engage in any protest action but promises to be present to protect the community during the peaceful protest. As members we will be there to ensure the safety of everyone present.
“SAPS is aware of the situation and, since we are a joint entity, they will be at the protest with us to make sure no violence takes place,” said Nadasen.
Gareth Naidoo, spokesperson of private security company KZN VIP, said: “Law enforcement will be in full force during this time and we want to maintain a non-violent and peaceful protest.”
The SAPS had not responded by the time of publication.