Community tired of poor conditions

Around 50 residents protested against the riots and the City of Cape Towns negligence in Joe Slovo and Phoenix.

About 50 Joe Slovo and Phoenix residents demonstrated on Freedom Way last Friday, accusing the City and SAPS of
fumbling their response to recent land grabs and rioting in the area.

Leaders from both communities called for the City and SAPS to work with them to rid the neighbourhoods of bad elements.

“Phoenix community will not pay municipal service fees for poor conditions,” said one of the demonstrator’s placards.

The residents accused the police and City of standing idle and watching as rioters destroyed property. The City should do something about the overcrowding of shacks in the area because it strained infrastructure causing drains to block and overflow, they said.

Phoenix resident Sam Moloi said that when the area had faced similar problems in 2014, Joy Solomon, the councillor at the
time, had told of City plans to build flats and businesses on land in Freedom Way.

“It’s six years later, and there is still nothing on this land. Joy McCarthy [Solomon] has since left and we still face the same issues here. Just like back then, we are faced with land grabs and violence. I put the blame on the City of Cape Town. They ignore the community. They don’t hold any meetings to brief or listen to what the community has to say.”

Chantelle Klaas, also from Phoenix, accused the City of shifting the blame for the area’s problem onto residents’ shoulders.

“A lot of these things here would be
sorted out had the City just kept their
promises. We can argue with people of Joe Slovo as much as we like, but the truth is that the two communities need to come together to fight the terrorism caused by the few and fight against the City of Cape Town that tries to divide us.”

Mayoral committee member for human settlements Malusi Booi said the contested land was partly City-owned and a road reserve for future expansion and mixed-use development, including for housing.

“The land should not be illegally occupied. There are plans in place for parts of the land, and if it is illegally occupied, it has a negative knock-on, domino effect for future projects.

“The City is always willing and grateful for any chance to engage with our communities to find constructive, and positive ways forward that are not to the detriment of the community at large.”

Milnerton SAPS spokeswoman Captain Nopaya Madyibi said they had met both Joe Slovo and Phoenix community leaders last Friday and were committed to work with them. Both the police and army had deployed in the area to “enhance more police visibility”, she said.

Joe Slovo community leader Mzimkhulu Sopeni said those supporting hooliganism and greed were behind the land grabs and violence.

“This is just crime. It’s not people who are desperate for houses. These people just want to take land and sell it to other poor people. We need the police to react accordingly because we want a partnership with them.”

Ward 4 councillor Wandisile Ngeyi called for the City to update residents about housing plans on Freedom Way.

“We would like to go ahead with planning and constructing flats and small businesses on the piece of land in Freedom Way. This will help both communities as it will create social cohesion between them and both will feel included. The City has to take some of the blame for all the frustration felt by our people and we should rectify that.”

Mr Ngeyi said he planned to meet with Joe Slovo and Phoenix residents today, Wednesday July 29.