City slams brakes on vandals

SUMMER JACOBS

The City of Cape Town has been granted a permanent interdict against protesters, among them the Govan Mbeki branch of the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) and members of their executive, for attacks on MyCiTi stations.

On March 23, the City applied for a high court interdict against protesters who damaged the MyCiTi station in Potsdam Road in Dunoon (“MyCiTi targeted by Dunoon invaders,” Tabletalk, March 23).

Protest action had also taken place in Joe Slovo where illegal taxi drivers damaged the Phoenix station in Omuramba Road to force the City to legalise their routes (“Taxi trouble in Joe Slovo”, Tabletalk March 23). The cost of damages to the stations amounted to approximately R1.1 million.

Mayco member for transport, Brett Herron, said he was “relieved and grateful” for the interdict announced in the Western Cape High Court last Wednesday.

“The Western Cape High Court found that the City of Cape Town ‘has a clear right to protect its property, as well as to protect its officials and employees, and the commuters who make use’ of the MyCiTi stations and service,” said Mr Herron.

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He said the City could not allow protesters to vandalise and damage infrastructure.

“Vandalism and the destruction of City property, coupled with intimidation and threats to our personnel and law-abiding citizens, is unacceptable. There is absolutely no excuse or justification for this criminal and thuggish behaviour and with this final interdict the court drew a line in the sand.”

A copy of the final order will be placed on notice boards at the entrance to each of the MyCiTi stations along the T04 trunk route.

The order prevents the respondents from intimidating, threatening, harassing, assaulting or in any way interfering with City employees, contractors, councillors, commuters and law enforcement operations at the following stations: Usasaza, Dunoon, Killarney, Potsdam, Refinery, Montague Gardens, Turf Club, Omuramba, Phoenix, Sanddrift and Century City, as well as the Stables MyCiTi bus depot.

The respondents are prohibited from:

* Entering the stations for the purposes of conducting any protest action or disrupting the MyCiTi service;

* Preventing the free movement or access to the MyCiTi stations by City employees, officials, contractors, councillors, commuters or Law Enforcement officials;

* Coming within 300m of the MyCiTi stations mentioned above; and

* Intimidating, threatening, harassing, assaulting or in any way interfering with operations at the MyCiTi stations, or any commuters using or intending to use the stations and service.

Mr Herron pointed out that nearly three months have passed and the stations are still “not operational following the violent attacks”.

Buses along the T04 trunk route are still diverted via Bosmansdam and Koeberg roads. Commuters at the Usasaza station are still tapping in and out of a bus parked in Stables Way and commuters from Dunoon still have to walk to either the Usasaza or Killarney stations to board a MyCiTi bus.

“The final court order is an important victory for the City who must protect its assets and residents,” said Mr Herron.

Cowen Banjatwa, the branch secretary for SANCO in Joe Slovo, said the interdict was unfair and that the City is forcing them to accept something they had no part in.

“Financially we were not able to fight the interdict. We approached legal aid but they never sent someone to represent us in court,” said Mr Banjatwa.

He said they wrote several letters which they handed in to the court explaining their part in the protests and how they tried to calm the situation. He says these letters were “undermined” in court.

“We tried to explain the land invasions took place in Dunoon and that area has its own branch of SANCO. Politically we are different as well because Joe Slovo has a DA councillor and Dunoon has a ANC councillor. We therefore can’t represent Dunoon because they have their own branch leadership. The taxi violence in Joe Slovo we also had no part in. I was woken up that morning by a SANCO colleague who told me what was happening and we went to investigate. We had no part in the protests,” he said.

“We as SANCO members are not ill-disciplined because we will be reprimanded. They (the City) can continue to oppress us. They will an