Protestors from Phillipi’s Ward 35 had a stand-off with protestors from Ward 36 as both groups marched to the construction site of the new shopping plaza yesterday where the allocation of casual labour jobs is being contested.
The total number of protestors, amounting to about 1 000 people, hurled rocks and insults at each other but fortunately no injuries were reported.
Work at the construction site was brought to a halt as the two factions protested at the gates.
From Ward 35 in Philippi 600 residents demanded 60% of construction jobs go to people from their ward.
Residents claim the site is in their ward and they have the right to receive the majority of the casual labour jobs.
They accused the project’s steering committee of corruption and hiring people from the areas they came from, rather than locals.
Residents said the process of employment must be redone with residents from all surrounding areas represented.
“This project belongs to ward 35 but all the people that are working here are from ward 36. We demand everything to start afresh, they must inform us as the Residents Committee when they want to hire people. As residents of ward 35 we demand 60% of employment because this project belongs to us. Every surrounding area should benefit from the project not one area,” said secretary of development in ward 35, Thulani Mangqwengwe.
But an opposing group of 400 protestors from Ward 36 in neighbouring Crossroads demanded construction continue.
The opposing groups swore at other and accused various leaders of corruption as police kept a watchful eye on proceedings.
Residents of Ward 36 said shopping plaza is being built next to their houses and they have a right to employment. They said the people who led the protest against job allocations at the site are corrupt and simply want to sell off jobs.
Ward 36 project steering committee member Thobani Damane said all the community structures were informed about employment and job allocations.
“We called a general meeting but not a single person from ward 35 attended. Residents committee were told to come up with people from their area so they can benefit from job opportunities, the committee came with people so it’s not our fault they didn’t attend the meetings.”
Project manager and a developer, Andile Peter denied that residents from Ward 35 in Philippi were not employed on site.
“We have a number of people from Philippi (Ward 35) working at the project. This is not about the residents, it’s about two people who always benefit from each an every project in the area, they’re mobilising people to fight their battle. Their problem it’s because we hired people directly, they want us to hire people through them so that they can get the money before going to people. Before the project we had meetings with residents, we informed them about the project and they were happy,” said Peter. – Nombulelo Damba