Land occupation named after Mayor Bobani erupts in protests

“He said we can rebuild our shacks and live here. He promised to give us toilets, water and electricity”

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Photo of protest debris and police vehicles
Protesters from Bobani informal settlement in Uitenhage shut down Rocklands and Alexander roads in a protest demanding electricity and more toilets and communal water taps. Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani

By 3am on Monday about 200 people from Bobani informal settlement, Gungunguluza, had shut down Rocklands and Alexander roads in Uitenhage with burning tyres and rocks. They were demanding basic services including electricity.

Police used rubber bullets to disperse the protesters and then extinguished the burning barricades.

“Our mayor, Mongameli Bobani, came and addressed us after our shacks were demolished [in January],” said Noxolo Fisonti. “He said we can rebuild our shacks and live here. He promised to give us toilets, water and electricity.”

In February, GroundUp reported on the settlement named after Bobani. It was formed by backyard shack dwellers from various wards in Uitenhage after Bobani froze all evictions in the Nelson Mandela Bay area.

Ward Councillor Siphiwo Plaatjies (ANC) said, “I can confirm that Mayor Bobani did visit the area twice this year. His first visit was after the residents demanded to meet with him … because some of their material was missing after their shacks were demolished.

“He then granted them permission to live on that land. Councillors from KwaNobuhle in Uitenhage and Mayco Member for Human Settlements Andile Mfunda were also present … Mayor did promise to give the residents water, electricity and toilets.

“He delivered the toilets and water but they are not enough for the population of the area. But the residents demand electricity, which also gives them security from crimes committed in darkness,” said Plaatjies.

“He [Bobani] gave us ten toilets and six communal water taps. But we said that was not enough for 3,000 people. Out of these six water taps only four are working,” said Fisonti. “The toilets are filthy and stinking. They are only cleaned once a month.”

She said people queued for hours for water. People relieved themselves in paint buckets and emptied them in the bushes.

Pumelela Mvoko said, “We want electricity because paraffin is very expensive. A litre costs R14. We use it for cooking and paraffin lamps. But it can’t last for a month. The place is too dark and not safe, especially for women and children.”

Plaatjies said that this week they will know when the municipality will provide electricity to the area.

He said Bobani made a second visit in his capacity as UDM leader, accompanied by party president Bantu Holomisa, before the national elections.

“But I was not invited to that meeting and I don’t know what he promised that community again,” said Plaatjies.

Numerous attempts through several channels were made to reach Bobani. GroundUp has had no reply.

TOPICS:  Electricity Land Sanitation Water

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