Township residents march through Rondebosch to demand better lighting

“I want to be able to walk in my street at night under the lights without fear. Instead I have to rush home before the sun goes down”

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Photo of protest at night
Residents of townships in Khayelitsha, Kraaifontein and Philippi marched through the relatively affluent suburb of Rondebosch on Tuesday evening. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

About 200 Capetonians marched through the streets of Rondebosch on Tuesday evening, led by the Social Justice Coalition (SJC). They demanded public lighting in their areas.

Rondebosch is an affluent area. Most of the protesters were from relatively poor townships in Khayelitsha, Philippi, and Kraaifontein. They demanded that the City of Cape Town stop “discriminatory allocation of public lighting in Cape Town”.

Addressing the marchers, who had gathered at the Rondebosch Park, SJC’s general secretary, Axolile Notywala said: “Look how bright it is here — all these lights. We are here to see and compare the situation here to the daily situation back home. It is a sad reality that after this march we will go back to darkness. We will go back to our dark areas where we get robbed and killed.”

An SJC statement said that it had engaged the City on the unequal distribution of lighting for the last two years. But it said that to date the City had not shown willingness to address the discrimination in a clear and substantive manner.

“Maps showing the provision of public lighting across Cape Town, compiled using the City’s own data, reveals that effective public lighting is reserved for all roads in wealthier predominantly white and coloured neighbourhoods. The same maps reveal that many roads in poorer Black and coloured communities are not provided with the same effective public lighting. The differential treatment between these communities is self-evident. The inequality is self-evident,” read the statement.

Ntombomzi Phika lives in Endlovini in Khayelitsha. “I want to live like this,” she said, referring to the streets of Rondebosch. “I want to be able to walk in my street at night under the lights without fear. Instead I have to rush home before the sun goes down because I am afraid of what might happen to me in the dark.”

Placards read: “Treat all streets equal” and “Effective public lighting”. These were waved by protesters while they marched through various streets in Rondebosch, much to the confusion of some residents.

The SJC claims that Mayco Member for Energy and Climate Change, Phindile Maxiti, in a press statement said that the City would spend R6 million on street lights and R4 million on high-mast spotlights, a total of R10 million, in Khayelitsha in the 2019/2020 financial year. But, in the 2019/2020 draft budget only R7 million for all public lighting has been allocated for the entirety of Area East, of which Khayelitsha is a part.

Questions sent to the City on Tuesday had not been answered by the time of publication.

This was the SJC’s second march about public lighting after the first one that was held in Khayelitsha in February.

TOPICS:  Street lights

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