Retaliation riots condemned

Protesters burned and looted a truck in retaliation to a recent removal of land invaders. Bystanders are seen watching black smoke billowing from the truck.

The City of Cape Town has condemned the rioting in Dunoon that followed a land invasion.

Police arrested six people for public violence after protesters closed part of Potsdam Road, torched a truck and stoned passing vehicles on Saturday June 29.

The unrest came just days after City law enforcement tore down shacks being built illegally on private land (“Zero tolerance for land invaders,” Tabletalk, June 26).

The six suspects were due to appear in court on Monday, according to Milnerton SAPS spokesperson, Captain Nopaya Madyibi.

Mayoral committee member for human settlements Malusi Booi said that while the City supported the right to protest, it did not condone illegal and violent protest which threatened lives and caused costly damage to infrastructure and services.

Video footage posted on social media of the burning truck on Potsdam Road appeared to show people looting the vehicle.

Ward 104 councillor Lubabalo Makeleni is certain the removal of the invaders’ shacks sparked the riots.

He said he sympathised with those who genuinely needed housing but added that some of those who had tried to build on the contested site had done so to cash in,.

“I could say that most of the people that occupied that land have other places to live. Often, we have people from Khayelitsha who work this side of the city and decide to illegally erect a shack this side, while they have their own home where they come from. They often sell that shack again and the cycle continues.

“This issue is not new and happens all the time. Unfortunately, the plight of those who really need housing gets overshadowed by the ones looking to make a quick buck.”

Mr Makeleni also said there were people selling land to others to secure a plot.

“But these plots being sold are on private land, and people can’t just sell land that doesn’t even belong to them. Unfortunately, we don’t know who these people that sell land are because residents are afraid to speak.

“I have also urged some residents to contact me directly if they are afraid to speak in public so that we can find those responsible.”

Last year, Mr Makeleni’s office was torched during riots, and he believes the culprits are involved in these new protests (“Hall torched, new library damaged in Dunoon riots”, Tabletalk, June 13, 2018).

“They nearly killed me last year because I was in the hall when it was set alight, so every time I go there, I am basically risking my life.

We need to get to the bottom of what is going on, root out the bad apples, and we can continue to build a better life with the other residents of Dunoon.”

Phiwokuhle Mzimela, one of those who had tried to move onto the private land, said she had nowhere to go.

“I know that some of these people burning things have houses in Dunoon but are just using this as an excuse to cause tension. But what about those of us who legitimately need a place to live? The City is aware that whenever there is forced removals, protests will surely follow. We need an action plan by the City and it must tell when and where this land will be available,” she said.

Mr Booi said a feasibility study was being done on land near Dunoon that the City had acquired for housing development.

“Over the next three years, as part of the City’s continued efforts to improve the lives of our more vulnerable residents, its human settlements directorate is expected to deliver projects to the value of almost R2.7 billion. The City will continue to work hard to offer a range of accommodation options for its more vulnerable residents,” he said.