Hundreds protest in Booysens Park to be moved to “safer areas”

Resident of Vastrap informal settlement have previously expressed their unhappiness with high crime rates in the area

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Photo of construction truck
A front hoe loader construction vehicle was torched by protesters from Vastrap informal settlement on Wednesday. Photo: Joseph Chirume

Scores of Vastrap informal settlement residents in Port Elizabeth blockaded all entrances to Booysens Park on Wednesday. They were demanding that the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality relocate them to a safer area.

Residents staged a number of protests in July over the lack of a police presence in the area. They also demanded that a new police station be built in Booysens Park.

On Wednesday, police spokesperson Captain Sandra Janse Van Rensburg said a front hoe loader construction vehicle worth R3 million was torched by protesters. No arrests have been made, she said. “A case of malicious damage to property was opened,” she said.

Community leader Khaya Makalima said residents were angry that the municipality had identified land to relocate them, but that the process was taking too long. “We held several meetings with officials from the municipality’s human settlement department. They assured us that they had identified land for our relocation,” he said.

Makalima said of the 1,102 residents living at Vastrap, 368 would remain there while 363 would relocate to land in Jagvlekte and 371 are to be moved to a piece of land near the Booysens Park clinic.

He said that tension was high in the community because some people fear that they will be moved to unfamiliar areas. “We have met all the people responsible for allocating land and houses but there is no positive development taking place. This is the reason why we have to burn tyres and block roads,” he said.

Resident Sipho Makeleni has shared a one-room shack with his five children since 2009. He said, “We are [done] being patient with the municipality. They are busy developing other informal settlements, leaving us behind. We are afraid that the land that was identified for us near Qunu will be occupied illegally by people from outside this area.”

Mayor Mongameli Bobani’s spokesperson George Geleba, confirmed that the municipality had allocated land for the community of Vastrap, but that they were waiting for the contractors to prepare the land.

He said the mayor urged residents not to damage private and public property during protests in a bid to raise their concerns. “The mayor is visiting all disgruntled metro communities to attend to their concerns and service delivery issues to put an end to the protests,” he said.

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TOPICS:  Crime Housing

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