Addo shut down by protests

Residents of one of the area’s oldest informal settlements want houses, electricity, tap water, toilets and passable roads

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Photo of protesters
A lone young protester covers his face with a poster. Photo: Joseph Chirume

Addo town in the Eastern Cape was shut down by protesters on Thursday. Businesses closed and schools stopped teaching. Protesters blocked all main roads with rubble and burning tyres. The protest continued on Friday.

Protest leader Melikhaya Saki said protesters wanted the Sundays River Municipality to say when houses would be built for people on the waiting list. “We also want the municipality to provide services to the people of Molly Village. This is one of the oldest informal settlements in Addo, yet we don’t have even bucket toilets.” Saki said most residents of Molly Village had moved in in 1991.

The demonstrators clashed with police along the R335 before retreating to a taxi rank in KwaNomathamsaqa. Police spokesperson Captain Gerda Swart said four people were arrested and charged with public violence.

Ntomboxolo Booysen said her 85-year-old grandmother, Ntombizodwa Matanjana, built her shack in 1998 in Molly Village and had waited ever since for a house. “She is devastated that she will die without having a house of her own,” said Booysen.

She said when it rains the streets of Molly Village are impassable. Some shacks are built on loose ground, on soil dug out for the Addo irrigation canal.

Nomzamo Maqoko said, “I live in this mud house with my husband and eleven grandchildren. Our pit toilet always gives us a problem because it fills up fast so we have exhausted all corners of the yard digging new toilets.”

The family arrived in Molly Village in 1999.

Thembisile Kosopu lives with her 102-year-old grandmother, Buyelwa Zebekate. “We have been living here since 1998. The municipality promised long ago to provide electricity, clean tap water and paved roads … These have proved to be empty promises. After all those years without water, the municipality recently provided us with four Jojo tanks but they are not enough because there are more than 700 shacks in the area.

“Most of the elderly are suffering and living in mud houses. This is the reason we embarked on this community protest.”

Municipal spokesperson Zusiphe Mtirara said, “You can go ahead with your story because there is no comment.”

TOPICS:  Housing

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