Vehicles set alight as protesters demand sanitation and water

Nelson Mandela Bay Mayco member promises action on stalled project

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Vehicles were torched on Tuesday during a protest by residents of Westville informal settlement in Gqeberha, demanding water and sanitation. Photos: Thamsanqa Mbovane

Chaos erupted at Westville informal settlement in Gqeberha on Tuesday when over 200 protesters took to the streets, demanding quick installation of sewer and water infrastructure.

Protesters said the project, in Kwadwesi Extension, had been stalled since 2017 because of changes of mayors, mayco members and policy. They said if the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality provided sewer infrastructure, the construction of RDP houses would follow.

Protesters blew whistles, burnt tyres, and blocked roads with rocks, branches and storm water pipes.

Their placards read: “MMC Mafana phendula (Mayco member for human settlements, Thembinkosi Mafana, give us answers) and “No service, no vote” and “24 years of no service” and ”#houses”.

They sang “Noma besidubula, siyaya (even if they shoot us, no turning back)”.

Three trucks and a light bakkie driven by contractors to the municipality driving on Mission Road were set alight, while municipal vehicles were pelted with stones with protesters shouting to drivers: “Voetsek!”

You are staying in a cosy house which resembles a Parliament.

Dozens of vehicles had to take alternative routes.

Police spokesperson Captain Sandra Janse Van Rensburg said motorists should avoid using the Westville Road.

Chairperson of the Westville Development Committee Sipho Ntsondwa said there had been almost 24 years without high mast lights, no roads, no infrastructure, and residents have been protesting for years. He said there were 6,500 homes in Westville and only 300 chemical toilets.

Ntsondwa said they had been engaging with different mayors and mayco members about their problems without any success.

Mayco Member for Human Settlements in Nelson Mandela Bay, Thembinkosi Mafana, addressed the protesters.

Ward 36 councillor Khanyisa Mani arrived and strongly condemned the damage to property. “The destruction of property cannot be allowed and you guys must refrain from it,” he told Ntsondwa.

When Mayco Member for Human Settlements Thembinkosi Mafana arrived, he was confronted by resident Ntabelanga Bele who accused him of making empty promises.

“You are staying in a cosy house which resembles a Parliament. You are failing us through lies. We stay in a mess,” Bele told Mafana.

Mafana told the crowd that a resolution had been taken last February in the council and the project would go ahead. He said: “We are working but you won’t see it. I have even written to the executive director of Human Settlements to implement the council resolution.”

The protesters told Mafana to meet them again on Wednesday and bring all the relevant officials “or else we won’t stop protesting.” He agreed.

TOPICS:  Sanitation Water

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