July 19, 2009 Edition 1 VUYO MABANDLA – Cape Argus
Hundreds of Samora Machel residents took to the streets chanting songs directed at the government for its lack of service delivery – and carrying a cake to mark Nelson Mandela’s 91st birthday.
This was the latest in a number protests held over the past two weeks that have highlighted the plight of the poor who are demanding that the government deliver on its promises to build houses.
Last week’s flooding sparked a series of demonstrations in Khayelitsha, Masiphumele and Du Noon by residents, mostly shack dwellers, and things turned ugly when they clashed with police.
Residents burned tyres, strewed rubbish across streets and threw stones at police, who reacted by firing rubber bullets and stun grenades at the crowd.
A number of people were reportedly left injured.
A Golden Arrow bus was set alight by residents in Site B, Khayelitsha.
Yesterday, Samora Machel community leader, Siyabulela Mafo, said they had been promised houses by former MEC for housing Richard Dyantyi before this year’s elections.
“(Dyantyi) came and promised to build proper houses for us – and we believed him.
Residents say they are tired of “these government people promising us services only when they need our votes.”
Nontyatyambo Lumina, 26, said: “I live in a very small shack with my child, and my house was flooded when it rained. I’m unemployed so I cannot afford a brick house.”
Another resident, Nontembiso Awuwa, said she was “sick of the way the government uses us to garner support and does nothing in return”.
She shouted to her fellow residents: “We want houses. Anditsho? (Isn’t that so?).”
Yesterday, residents used blankets given to flood victims by the municipal officials to roof a makeshift shelter, calling it “a house from our government”.
Addressing the crowd, Mafo said: “It’s such a shame that elderly people here are still living in appalling conditions.”
The residents then tore down the shelter, vowing to do the same with services, should they not be satisfied.
Mafo said representatives from Samora’s informal settlements and shack dwellers would draw up a memorandum of demands, which will be sent to the City of Cape Town.