Zwelitsha water shortage sparks protest

Zwelitsha residents protested on Friday and Saturday over water shortages. This picture of a water truck in Dunoon was taken last year.

There were reports of stone-throwing at motorists along Malibongwe Drive when residents of Dunoon’s Zwelitsha squatter camp protested on Friday and Saturday about water shortages in their community.

“We don’t have any water in this area,” said Amanda Qhasane, of Zwelitsha. “We normally have water trucks that come to the N7. It normally comes every day and we would walk quite far to fill our buckets. Lately, we haven’t been receiving water as often. Actually last week, the truck didn’t come at all and that’s why the protests started on Friday.”

Table View CPF chairman, David Harris said the stone-throwing had put people’s lives at risk.

“We condemn violence in any way. It is a very dangerous situation and can cause serious injury to people. The violence can also pit neighbourhoods against each other. Even those that sympathise with people protesting for better services, the violence will end up doing the opposite,” he said.

Table View police spokesman Captain FC Van Wyk said riot police had responded to the protests by about 200 people on Friday and about 50 people on Saturday.

“Protesters were upset that water was not received,” he said. “Trash bags were placed in the road to block traffic by protesters.”

He added that there had been no reports of injuries or damage to vehicles. No arrests had been made but two public-violence cases had been opened.

In September last year, Zwelitsha marched along with other informal settlements surrounding Dunoon complaining about service delivery (“Demand for better municipal services,” Tabletalk, September 16).

“I understand that this is an informal settlement but we are still humans,” said Simon Mkhaba, who moved to Zwelitsha early last year and was part of the recent protest. “We are here now and have nowhere else to go. The least that the government can do is try to get us some services. A lot of people don’t have toilets here and we’re just living in bad conditions in general.”

Tabletalk asked the City on Monday morning about water shortages in the area and to respond to allegations that the contract for the water trucks had expired, but we did not get a response to those specific questions by deadline.

Instead, Malusi Booi, mayoral committee member for human settlements, said Zwezwe residents had illegally occupied that land.

“It must be noted that illegal land invasions are against the law and pose great fire, safety, health and flood risks as is the case here. Having various new settlements forming in an unplanned manner also poses a risk to the City’s informal settlements Covid-19 response.”

Furthermore, the City had no budget for new illegal settlements and such settlements could threaten service delivery elsewhere, he said.