Vrygrond residents 'had no option left but to protest'
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Cape Town - The Vrygrond Community Development Forum (VCDF) has slammed the City for allegedly provoking residents from the Xakabantu informal settlement to protest, causing panic in the city on Wednesday night.
VCDF secretary Nonkosi Fodo said that the community had not planned to protest or prepared to loot the Capricorn Centre on Wednesday night, but felt cornered after City officials came into the area in the morning and allegedly tore down community structures with no warning.
“What happened yesterday was the result of the City’s blatant disregard for the residents in Xakabantu. People were furious at why law enforcement would come into the area during such times, not to assist the community, but to tear down structures built for their betterment.”
She said that City officials tore down a food garden and recycling plant project that were started to uplift and empower young women in the community, prodding the frustrated residents into staging a demonstration.
“As a forum, we have always appealed for things to be done the right way, but I think after years of being sidelined and ignored when it comes to getting access to basic service delivery the community’s frustration boiled over last night.
“We have engaged and petitioned for the City to assist this community since 2016. They don’t have water, electricity or even enough toilets, but nothing has come of it,” said Fodo.
However, according to the City, officials who went into the community did not tear down any community project structures, just newly built shacks.
In a statement, the City said no projects were affected by the City’s actions on Wednesday. Only newly erected, unoccupied structures were removed, as per full compliance with a court order.
Mayco member for Human Settlements, Malusi Booi, said that while there were many uncertainties, one thing for certain was that the City had to uphold the rule of law in the country.
“We can see that we must all hold on to the rule of law in South Africa, and unlawful actions cannot be normalised. We will continue to act to prevent the unlawful occupation of land.”
In efforts to keep the area under control and clear of any unrest, the City’s Safety and Security department said it would continue to monitor the area to avoid any flare-ups of chaos.