News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Thursday September 19th 2019

Gvt car burnt in construction jobs spat

Khayelitsha residents set a car belonging to the Public Works Department alight on Tuesday during protests over job allocations at a low-cost housing construction site. Photo: Nombulelo Damba/WCN

Protests over job allocations at a Mfuleni low-cost housing project construction site resulted in protestors burning a government-owned car in Mew Way, Khayelitsha on Tuesday night. Photo: Nombulelo Damba/WCN

A spat over job allocations at a low-cost housing construction site in Mfuleni has sparked violent protests by Khayelitsha residents, culminating in a government-owned car being set alight on Tuesday evening.

The protests by a core of over 100 residents from Khayelitsha’s Wards 90 and 92 who believe they should receive a percentage of the casual labour jobs at the Nuwebegin housing project, started on Monday night after a meeting with Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela did not take place.

Residents set scattered garbage and tyres alight across Mew Way on Monday night and proceeded to force their way onto the Nuwebegin construction site in Mfuleni on Tuesday, bringing work to a halt for four hours.

On Tuesday night, a government vehicle that had apparently been hijacked elsewhere in the township was set alight. It is not known what happened to the occupants, but they are not believed to have been harmed.

Stones were also thrown at passing cars and police used rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

On Wednesday morning rubbish was set alight across Mew Way.

The cause of the protests is a perception that the Ward 90 and 92 residents – who are set to benefit from the Nuwebegin project in Mfuleni some 15km away – were promised 30% of the casual labour jobs on site by Madikizela.

According to protestors, a telephonic conversation between Ward 90 residents’ committee secretary Khaya July and Madikizela took place on Sunday during which Madikizela undertook to liaise with them on Monday.

Following no word from Madikizela’s office on Monday, residents started protesting following a community meeting.

July said Madikizela was aware of their grievances.

“Residents from TR Section fought for this land, they deserve to benefit from it.”

July said residents of Ward 108, where the housing project was situated, should receive 40% of the manual labour jobs on site, the adjacent Ward 17 residents should receive 30%, while Ward 90 and 92 were to share the remaining 30%.

But he said since construction started earlier this year only residents from Ward 108 had been employed.

Lingelethu police spokesperson, Siphokazi Mawisa, said a white Toyota Yaris from the Department of Public Works was set alight in Mew Way on Tuesday evening.

Mawisa said the driver abandoned the car when protestors pelted it with rocks, and opened a criminal case at the Lingelethu police station.

“By the time police arrived at the scene, the car was already set alight,” he said.

No arrests had been made following the protests, said Mawisa, and police were patrolling the area.

Meanwhile, a similar, but less violent protest over job allocations at a Temporary Relocation Area (TRA) construction site in Delft on Tuesday brought work to a halt for the day.

Residents in existing TRA units in Delft are demanding that the construction company, Asla, allocate 50% of the casual labour jobs on site to them.

Scores of protesting residents, who are living within the fenced off site locked the gates to the site on Tuesday and intimidated workers.

TRA5 resident’s committee secretary Pumeza Kobe said residents were “unhappy” with Asla hiring labourers from other others “while we sit here with no jobs”.

“We been writing letters to them asking them to hire 50% from our area but we never got response. That’s why we decided to close the gate and stop them from entering the site.”

A meeting between the TRA5 community leaders, Asla managers and Subcouncil representatives was held on Tuesday to try find a solution, resulting in two residents being hired, but the protestors refused to open the gates until they reported for work on Wednesday.

“Residents are happy with an agreement, but the construction has to be stopped until the two people are hired. Residents are now happy and we hope we will continue to work together with construction leadership,” said resident committee chairperson Xolani Mbaxa. — Nombulelo Damba


Tags: Bonginkosi Madikizela, Khaya July, Mfuleni, Nuwebegin, Pumeza Kobe, Xolani Mbaxa

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