News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Sunday September 15th 2019

Mayor’s visit to informal settlement criticised as PR exercise

Under heavey police presence, City of Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille paid a brief publicised visit to Gugulethu informal settlements yesterday (subs: Tues) as city-contracted workers emptied 'Mshengu' toilets. Photo: Nombulelo Damba/WCN

Under heavy police presence, City of Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille paid a brief publicised visit to Gugulethu informal settlements yesterday as city-contracted workers emptied 'Mshengu' toilets. Photo: Nombulelo Damba/WCN


Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille’s brief visit to Barcelona and Kanana informal settlements in Gugulethu was uneventful yesterday (Tues) partly because it was accompanied by a heavy police presence following attacks against her in other communities.

But over 100 Barcelona residents who gathered in community hall after she left the area, expressed their unhappiness with the City’s sanitation and housing policies, saying the faeces fracas would continue as they were not prepared to accept the new portable flush toilets the city was installing, unless de Lille used one in her own house.

Residents said the mayor’s visits left them angry as they did not know why she was in the area and they were not informed of the visit.

De Lille, surrounded by police, took a brief, 15 minute walk through the settlements as city-contracted workers emptied ‘Mshengu’ toilets, addressed journalists, and left.

Residents said workers normally emptied the toilets at night but their coming during the day smacked of a public relations exercise.

“To us this looks like she was touring to speak with journalists, that’s all we can say” said Mongameli Mbili, who was one of the protesters arrested on Monday for transporting a bag of human waste to Cape Town, allegedly with the intention of dumping it on the steps of the Civic Centre.

De Lille was heckled by residents when she attempted to address residents in Philippi two weeks ago as part of the ‘Know your Community, Know your Contractor’ campaign, to the point where she had to abandon the meeting.

On Tuesday last week she was chased of Kosovo, Philippi when she tried to address residents about sanitation services.

Her visit to Kosovo came a day after the start of what could be dubbed the ‘faeces fracas ‘which started on June 3 when a group of residents led by the ANC Proportional Councilor and ANC Youth League leader Loyiso Nkohla emptied containers full of human waste on the steps of the provincial legislature.

A group of protestors led by Nkohla and former ANC PR councillor Andile Lili also emptied containers of human waste on cars outside a hall in Khayelitsha on June 4 while Premier Helen Zille was inside celebrating the first anniversary of the 110% Green economic development campaign.

On Monday this week police arrested 184 protesters from Khayelitsha, Phillipi, Nyanga and Gugulethu, who were on their way to town with plastic bags full of human waste.

Despite the arrests a few of the protesters led by Nkohla and United Democratic Front leader Mario Wanza, managed to emptying containers of human waste in the foyer of the provincial government offices off Green market Square.

Protests over sanitation and service delivery in Barcelona last month saw city officials attacked and the municipal vehicles and equipment burnt following a lengthy strike by employees of Sannicare, a company contracted by the city to clean portable toilets.

“The area has been the site of violent attacks and intimidation of city officials wanting to clean toilets there,” de Lille said yesterday.

“We want metro police to accompany city staff as they go into dangerous areas. We have to try one last time to clean up these areas,” she said.

Before accompanying de Lille on her walkabout in the informal settlement yesterday, media were warned to stay together so police could protect them too, and some media and staff were given protective gear to wear. – Nombulelo Damba


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