While we respect the right of people to protest peacefully, the City of Cape Town will not tolerate intimidation, violence and the destruction of public and private property and the infringements of rights of law abiding residents in general. Protesters purporting to be from new unlawfully occupied areas in Khayelitsha are demanding services after they illegally occupied land in recent months. One of the City’s Dial-a-Ride buses was stoned this morning. Two excavators, belonging to contractors, were also set alight. These were being used for the City’s Baden Powell to Khayelitsha water supply project. As a precaution, many services have been withdrawn, including the COVID-19 enhanced services water delivery trucks to areas in Khayelitsha.
The extreme increase in mostly large-scale, organised unlawful land occupations over the COVID-19 lockdown period and while the national crisis regulations remain in effect, among other reasons, have led to the establishment of new settlements in many parts of the metro such as in Khayelitsha, Kraaifontein and Mfuleni. These areas are now demanding immediate services.
The City has been communicating for months that it is unable to provide immediate services, if at all, to all newly formed settlements at the expense of the existing services and programmes planned in accordance with its Budget. The City does not have unlimited resources. In its assessments of the areas, the City’s stance is that the land assessment/physical conditions determines what, if any services, can be provided in terms of emergency relief.
The majority of the occupations have happened on land that is not suitable or viable for human habitation, such as in flood-prone wetlands, low-lying areas and even in water retention ponds or on the slopes of loose, sandy nature reserve land that will get eroded by wind and rain. The City has repeatedly advised people not to settle in these areas. These areas are typically not well resourced in terms of bulk services as the City cannot develop it for housing purposes.
People have also unlawfully settled on land earmarked for other beneficiaries of housing projects and have settled on land earmarked for services, such as on the site of a 5 km water pipeline that would serve a large section of the Khayelitsha community.
Some activist groups, political instigators and others in leadership roles that are condoning and encouraging the illegal occupations, are placing the health and safety of people at risk and jeopardising the stability of communities.
The City has said that any person who has been evicted by their ‘landlord’ must make a case at their local South African Police Service as this is against the COVID-19 regulations in place.
Illegal occupations have a very negative impact on planned projects, community facilities, basic services, beneficiaries of housing projects and infrastructure expansion and maintenance. It also severely negatively impacts those who have illegally occupied land. Those who occupy land illegally knowing there are no services do so at their own risk.
The City will continue to do everything in its power to prevent the illegal occupation of land, which is a criminal act and which hurts us all,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements, Councillor Malusi Booi.
Impact on public transport
Due to the ongoing violent protest, the City had to withdraw some of the Dial-a-Ride (DAR) buses that serve areas in Khayelitsha. Protestors stoned a DAR vehicle at around 05:45 this morning; the driver and one passenger were unharmed, but the service was temporarily suspended in Khayelitsha, Cross Roads, Makhaza, Philippi and Mfuleni with immediate effect until further notice.
‘As a result, about 30 residents who have special needs and cannot use conventional transport services are affected. They are now left stranded, and cannot go to work, school, hospital, or other destinations. It is totally unacceptable that violent protestors are undermining the rights of law abiding residents and allowed to burn and destruct property with impunity. I call on the SAPS to do all they can to arrest the perpetrators as this lawlessness cannot be allowed to continue unchallenged,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Alderman Felicity Purchase.
Furthermore, the Golden Arrow Bus Service (GABS) has suspended services in Makhaza after three of their buses were set alight earlier this morning.
At this point in time, the City cannot determine the extent of the damage and vandalism of public roads and traffic signals in the affected areas as it is too dangerous for officials to do an assessment. This will be done once it is safe to do so.
Safety and Security
‘The Directorate was alerted to the protests in the early hours of this morning. Officers have been trying to bring it under control and roads have been closed off to protect motorists.
‘One of our officers in Macassar had to call for assistance after a crowd arrived at his house and threatened to burn a City vehicle. A traffic patrol vehicle sustained damage as a result of the stoning. The officer was not injured.
‘A Law Enforcement vehicle was damaged when it was involved in an accident with two other vehicles while those vehicles were making U-turns to avoid the protests. Two people were injured in the accident.
‘All departments remain on scene. Clean up work is in progress, although roads have been reopened,’ said the City’s Executive Director for Safety and Security, Richard Bosman.
Anonymous tip-offs welcomed:
Residents can give anonymous tip offs if they are aware of illegal activity that is taking place; that has happened or is still to happen. Please call 112 from a cell phone (toll free) and 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 for emergencies.