6 September 2018
On Wednesday morning, residents from informal settlements in Uitenhage burnt tyres and blocked Kamehs Road. They were protesting over a lack of toilets, water and electricity. They say they were “cheated” by the municipality into relocating to an area with less services based on a promise that houses would be built.
Following the protests, about 35 community representatives from three informal settlements – Lapland, Afghanistan and McCarthy – walked about 10km to the Uitenhage Magistrates’ Court where community leader Brandon Priem was to appear on charges of public violence.
Police spokesperson Sergeant Majola Nkohli said Priem had appeared in court and was released on warning. The case was postponed to 26 September.
Hugh Reece of Lapland, a group leader of the three informal settlements, said the residents had been moved several years ago from Magsvale, also an informal settlement but one with better services.
“The municipality promised to develop this land and build houses for us. We are now faced with the reality that no houses will be built here and we feel cheated. The place is just a bush with no roads and the whole area is vulnerable to flooding … Enough is enough! We will only stop burning tyres after our grievances have been resolved,” said Reece.
Reece said they had handed former mayor Athol Trollip a petition on 24 August. “The demands we submitted to Trollip are the same and they will not change. We have high hopes for the new mayor, Mongameli Bobani,” said Reece.
Kercheval Nel, who lives in a one-room shack in Lapland, said he moved into the settlement four years ago from Magsvale. Nel said, Lapland was dangerous because of criminals. “There is no electricity to power street lights. There are no roads for emergency vehicles.”
Nel also said, “All the [three] settlements are located at a place where people from other areas dump their garbage.”
Arnold Keya, who lives in McCathy, said, “We want the government to build us houses in Uitenhage … We grew up in Uitenhage and the graves of our parents and loved ones are here.”
“We had a meeting with the municipality four times this year,” said one of the protesters, who did not wish to give her name. “This was after we had held several protests … They removed us from our previous settlements under the guise that they would build houses for us.”
Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Mongameli Bobani had not replied to GroundUp at the time of publication.