Protests cost City millions

The City of Cape Town says that it will cost them R8 million to replace the buses and fix the damaged station. Picture: Supplied

It could cost as much as R8 million to replace the two MyCiTi buses and repair the MyCiTi station rioters torched in the latest wave of unrest to rock Dunoon and Joe Slovo, says the City.

“This is not a protest. This is criminal,” said the City’s transport portfolio committee chairman, Angus McKenzie.

Two trucks were also torched. One on Saturday in Joe Slovo on Freedom Way and another on Monday on the N7 near Dunoon.

According to the City, a V&A Waterfront-bound MyCiTi bus was stoned in Potsdam Road at 6.45am on Saturday morning.

The attackers told passengers to get out and then set it alight. Later that evening, another MyCiTi bus was set alight and gutted at the Omuramba Station, which was damaged by the fire.

Mayoral committee member for transport, Felicity Purchase, said she was at a “loss for words” and the attacks would have a devastating impact on commuters from the Dunoon and Milnerton areas in coming weeks.

“The MyCiTi service has been providing affordable public transport to thousands of commuters every day, over the past 10 years. Those who attacked our buses and infrastructure this weekend are well aware of this, and are hell-bent on destabilising and destroying this much-needed service,” she said.

Ms Purchase said it could cost R8 million to replace the buses and repair the station.

The violence follows a spate of unrest that started around May 30 in Joe Slovo after City law enforcement removed people who invaded a piece of land on Freedom Way. At around the same time, two trucks were torched

in Dunoon after law enforcement removed illegal structures behind Killarney International Raceway. Four people were arrested for public violence (“Rioters demand land,” Tabletalk, June 3).

In September last year there was also rioting in the area after dozens of taxis were impounded from Dunoon and Joe Slovo and taxi bosses accused the City of targeting them. Rioters stoned cars, torched a truck and held a Table View woman at knifepoint after she dropped off her staff in Dunoon. Five people were arrested and the army was deployed (“Army deployed to curb protest,” Tabletalk, October 2, 2019).

Another riot broke out in June last year after the City removed shacks from private land. In the ensuing violence, rioters stoned and looted a truck, then set it ablaze.

Police arrested six people for public violence at the time (“Retaliation riots condemned,” Tabletalk, July 3, 2019).

In November 2018, A MyCiTi bus bound for Omuramba Station was set alight. Three men boarded the bus at the MyCiTi bus stop next to Phoenix on Koeberg Road and then threw petrol inside and set it alight (“MyCiTi bus set alight in Milnerton,” Tabletalk, November 22, 2018).

In June of 2018, a protest nearly turned fatal when the Dunoon councillor’s office was set alight while he was still inside.

Councillor Lubabalo Makeleni said those protests were also about land. And residents back then said they were “tired of living in poverty” (“Hall torched, new library damaged in Dunoon riots,” Tabletalk, June 12, 2018).

In February of 2018, rioters wrecked the Usasaza and Dunoon MyCiTi stations with bricks and burning tyres (“MyCiTi stations targeted again,” Tabletalk, February 14, 2018).

In August 2017, expelled land invaders attacked two buses with stones and petrol bombed Omuramba and Phoenix MyCiTi stations (“MyCiTi bears brunt of anger,” Tabletalk, August 16, 217).

Grievances over housing and land appear to have been at the heart of much of the recent unrest in the area.

Dunoon resident Joyce Makhubalo said she did not condone the destruction of property but understood the anger behind it.

“People have had enough of promises. I would like to think that the City understand this, but I fear they are still arrogant to the fact that people are tired. They have been promised land many times in the past, and it is now time to pay up. My biggest fear is that people are going to get hurt during all of this or worse, kids getting hurt. The City just needs to be more transparent with the people.”

In a statement on Monday, Cape Town mayor Dan Plato said the City needed every bus it had during the Covid-19 pandemic so physical distancing could be enforced and commuters could get to work safely.

“Destroying these services not only reduces essential public services for our residents, but it puts communities at risk,” he said.

Mr Plato said he would write to provincial police commissioner General Yolisa Matakata because SAPS needed to show it was capable of identifying the perpetrators, arresting those responsible, and ensuring there was enough evidence to secure a successful prosecution.

“This kind of criminality and state sabotage cannot go unchecked and the provincial commissioner will need to make sure action is taken.”

Ms Purchase and Mr Plato urged any witnesses to the destruction of property to report it to SAPS or the City’s Public Emergency Call Centre at 021 480 7700.