Home News Rain “washes out” Roodepan protest

Rain “washes out” Roodepan protest

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Disgruntled residents had threatened to escalate their protest action over service delivery grievances

Picture: Danie van der Lith

THE PLANNED protest action in Roodepan did not materialise on Wednesday due to the rainy weather.

The disgruntled community members, who had taken their frustrations to the streets on Tuesday, rather decided to try and mop up on Wednesday and move their shacks to drier ground.

The residents had originally threatened to escalate their protest action, which had started during the early hours of Tuesday morning, after accusing government officials of failing to engage with them.

They did, however, vow on Wednesday to continue their protest later this week as they accused the Office of the Mayor of ignoring their calls to map a way forward in regards to their service delivery woes.

On Tuesday, Sol Plaatje executive mayor Patrick Mabilo, who was joined by the MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, Bentley Vass, and the MEC for Public Works, Fufe Makatong, arrived at the scene of the protest to call for calm.

The protesters said that barricading all the access roads to Roodepan was the only way to get the attention of local government.

The residents accused the MECs of raising their hopes by coming to the protest and “then doing nothing”.

They did admit, however, that they had not called for the MECs, but had called for the mayor and his cabinet to meet with them after Mabilo had promised to provide the residents of Lethabo Park, White City, Gregory Park and Ivory Park with feedback regarding service delivery issues.

They pointed out that they had marched to Mabilo’s office to hand over a memorandum of grievances nine days before they launched their protest action on Tuesday.

According to the community members, they never received any of the “promised” services from Sol Plaatje Municipality when they were relocated to the new settlement.

They said that they had to contribute towards connecting and installing taps upon their arrival in Lethabo Park. They also pointed out that only four mobile toilets were allocated to service the close to 700 shacks in the area.

They questioned whether the land was surveyed before people were moved there.

One of the community representatives, Albert Mtanyana, said that the only information they received was that the soil had been “tested”, but, he added, the test results were never revealed.

Mtanyana said they will spend Wednesday helping vulnerable families by moving them and rebuilding their shacks on “better” plots of land.

He said the community had agreed that all ghost shacks should be demolished and the plots allocated to those in need.

The community members complained that the ghost shacks served as “hideouts” for criminals and drug addicts.

“We know all of the ghost shacks and will use the little resources available to us to fix the mess created by our municipality,” said Mtanyana.

“We do not care whether the existing shacks were already numbered or not. We are trying to build a safe environment for our people because the municipality is failing in that regard.

“We requested the municipality to allocate trucks for the removal of the material of the demolished shacks but nothing was done. So, we have volunteers who have offered transport and we will make our environment a better place to live in.”

Mtanyana said that those whose shacks were demolished should go to the council yard to claim their belongings

The acting spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlement and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta), Lerato Khunou, acknowledged that MECs Vass and Makatong had not been called upon to meet with the protesters on Tuesday.

Khunou said the MECs had gone to the protest out of concern for pupils who could not go to school and because they feared that state infrastructure might be destroyed.

“Our role as the provincial government was to do oversight and intervention,” said Khunou.

She said she could not comment on the way forward for the department.

The Office of the Mayor could not be reached for comment as the phones went unanswered.