In response to a call by anti-eviction campaign group Abahlali BaseMjondolo protests in Cape Town township have caused hundreds of thousands of rands damage and resulted in a Golden Arrow bus being torched.Replacing the bus alone would could R1million, said Golden Arrow spokesperson Bronwen Dyke.
Residents of informal settlements have been called to protest against the slow pace of service delivery by the activist group, ahead of a planned rally on October 28 when a memorandum of grievances will be handed over to Parliament.
Khayelitsha’s Lansdowne Fire Station suffered R15 000 worth of damages after protesters pelted it with rocks on Monday, shattering glass and damaging fire engines.
Traffic lights, street signs have been vandalized and vendor’s stalls in Philippi have been set alight.
City of Cape Town communication manager Charles Cooper said the money spent fixing damaged property could have used for service delivery.
He described the protest action as “crazy”.
“I don’t know what the people are trying to achieve when they damage and vandalise government property,” said Cooper.
He said damages ran into hundreds of thousands of rand, but actual figures would be released in a month’s time.
Abahlali BaseMjondolo Western Cape chairperson Mzonke Poni said the protests were occurring in Cape Town, KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape.
On Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights last week protestors burnt tyres and refuse in the streets, blockaded main roads and strew garbage across roads.
Further protests are expected this week and sporadically throughout the month.
Regarding the cost of damages, Poni said they “could not becompared with the cost of damages that affects us on a daily basis”.
“Everyday people die in shack fires caused by a lack of electricity in informal settlements, and people are victims of communicable infections such as TB which are caused by unhygienic conditions that people live with on a daily basis.
“We are saying no one can put a value in a human life.”
Poni said he congratulates the residents of Khayelitsha’s Enkani informal settlement for closing Baden Powel drive last week, residents of TR informal settlement for closing Mew Way road, RR informal settlement for closing Lansdowne road for more than three days, and Philippi residents who have been consistently blockading roads in the area.
Khayelitsha Police spokesperson Anneke Van der Vyver said seven people had been arrested in Khayelitsha in connection with the protests that started on October 1, while Nyanga police station spokesperson Ntomboxolo Sitshitshi said eight suspects had been arrested in Philippi.
Charges included public violence and damage to property. – Sandiso Phaliso, West Cape News