Protesters block major roads in Cape Town in cleaning contract dispute

Five arrested but not charged

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Protesters blocked major roads with burning tyres and rubbish and stones in an ongoing dispute with a cleaning company in Khayelitsha. Photo: Vincent Lali

  • Protesters blocked major roads on Monday in an ongoing dispute with a cleaning company contracted to the City of Cape Town.
  • They want the company to hire new supervisors so that different people get a chance to work.
  • The company says it is on a month-to-month contract with the City and cannot change all its supervisors.
  • Five protesters were arrested but released without charge.

Five people arrested after a protest in Khayelitsha in Cape Town were released from police custody on Tuesday. They were part of a crowd who blocked Baden Powell Drive and Walter Sisulu Drive with burning tyres and stones in an ongoing dispute over a City of Cape Town rubbish collection contract.

The protesters were due to appear in the Khayelitsha Magistrates Court on Tuesday on charges of public violence. But Western Cape National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said they had not been charged. “They could not be linked to the offence. The docket was sent back to the investigating officer,” he said.

On Monday police fired rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the protesters in Enkanini, Khayelitsha.

Community activists said the protesters wanted the City to fire cleaning company Mega Ndira Resources and hire a new company in its place. The protesters had called on the cleaning company to hire new supervisors along with new cleaners so that different people can get jobs, but without success.

Community activist Nonceba Ndlebe said: “We don’t want Mega Ndira because its managers don’t want to cooperate with the residents.”

“We want the City to hire a new company that will cooperate with us and employ new supervisors yearly so that we can share the cleaning jobs and also benefit from the cleaning project,” she said.

SANCO leader Myolisi Magibisela said: “We as residents selected the supervisors ourselves at community meetings and handed them over to the cleaning company. We wanted to do the same again with new supervisors.”

“We fail to understand why the managers don’t want to part ways with the supervisors now,” he said.

Ward 96 councillor Lucky Mbiza and Ward 95 councillor Ayanda Thethani said they had tried unsuccessfully to convince Mega Ndira Resources managers to accede to the shack dwellers demand at two meetings at Khayelitsha Training Centre in the past two weeks.

Mbiza said: “I support the protesters. The residents also want to get a chance to be supervisors. Mega Ndira Resources has failed to work with the community.”

“If the City continues to use the company, that would mean it also has no respect for the community.”

Meanwhile, Thethani said, his ward is now “very dirty.”

Zukisani Beseti, Mega Ndira Resources Project Manager, told GroundUp that the terms of the contract did not allow the company to be “dictated to” by community leaders. “The protesters must take their complaints to the City.” He said the company was on a month-to-month contract with the City and could not change all the supervisors.

Beseti said the company had asked the community leaders to allow it to change only half of the supervisors “for the sake of stability”, but they had refused to do so.

The dispute between the shack dwellers and Mega Ndira Resources would have to be resolved by the City, he said.

No response had been received by the time of publication to questions sent to the City of Cape Town. But after the last protests, the City said a meeting had been scheduled with the contractor. The municipality had sent its own team to collect rubbish. “However, the community threatened the team who had no other option but to move away from the area.”

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TOPICS:  Sanitation Unemployment

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