Peter Luhanga May 19, 2009 Source: West Cape News
Residents of Doornbach informal settlement in Cape Town took to the streets on Sunday night in protest against their living conditions, digging up a portion of a busy road, burning tyres and barricading the road with wood and cement slabs.
Protesters said police had fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd at about 9.30pm. Police confirmed that rubber bullets had been fired on Sunday night after protesters had refused to disperse.
Although there was a steady drizzle late on Sunday night, it failed to prevent about 1,000 protesters from gathering.
A Golden Arrow bus which tried to drive through the barricades on Potsdam Road was stoned.
Wearing winter coats or covered in blankets the protesters sung songs slamming Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, accusing her of poor service delivery.
They demanded that new Cape Town mayor Dan Plato hold a meeting with them to address their concerns.
Residents said their protest was sparked by a fire in the settlement on May 10 which left about 80 people homeless and heavy rains over the weekend which flooded their shacks.
“A few days ago it was fire. Now it’s floods. We need our own land where we can live decently,” said community leader Albert Mazula.
Mazula said shacks in the settlement, situated along Potsdam Road adjacent to Du Noon township and home to about 5,000 people, had been flooded as a result of heavy rain on the weekend.
“That’s why we decided to barricade the road to draw attention from the authorities to come and see the conditions we are leaving in,” he said.
Artwell Russon , 36, a father of three young children, said he was “sick and tired” of staying in a shack.
“It’s winter and our children will get sick here,” said Russon.
A heavy police presence monitored the situation on Sunday night and Monday morning. Potsdam Road was closed overnight and remained closed to traffic on Monday morning.
Police spokesperson Captain Frederick van Wyk said the demonstrators had stoned police and passing cars on Sunday night.
“Rubber bullets were fired after people were asked to disperse and they refused,” he said. He said no arrests had been made.
– West Cape News