Bucket system must go, say PE protesters

Missionvale residents take to the streets demanding water, sanitation and jobs

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Photo of aftermath of protest in PE.
Missionvale residents demanded water and sanitation. Photo: Joseph Chirume

Several hundred residents of Missionvale in Port Elizabeth took to the streets yesterday, blocking the Uitenhage road with burning tyres and attacking a taxi. The residents were demanding that the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality connect their houses to the water supply and phase out the bucket toilet system.

The protesters shouted abuse at motorists and attacked a taxi, shattering its windscreen. No one was injured.

They said the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality was slow to connect water to their houses. They also complained that the roofs and ceilings of some of their houses were collapsing.

Protesters, mainly young people and women, voiced their discontent with the employment policy at the nearby Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s Vista campus. They said the university should give preference to local people when hiring.

Said one angry protester: “I have been living here for many years. There is no development at all. We do not have a functioning water and sewerage system. The mayor promised us these services but it’s taking longer. Our patience is wearing thin now.”

Monique Arendens, 54, said she had to walk for nearly a kilometre to fetch water from a communal water tap.

“Our houses do not have running water. The water department is making some connections but the pace is very slow. I have high blood pressure that makes it difficult for me. I also have a disabled grandchild who is wheelchair-bound.”

Municipal spokesperson Kupido Baron said water connections had been delayed by problems with contractors but these had been solved. A total of 2,500 houses in the area were being connected.

“We are connecting more than 30 houses a day and we hope to finish all the houses by end of June,” he said.

Dr Phakama Ntshongwana, principal of NMMU Missionvale campus, said negotiations with residents had stalled when residents held a violent protest at the university and stoned shuttle buses recently.

Ntshongwana said in a statement that the university recognised the challenge of poverty and unemployment in surrounding communities and was exploring strategies to tackle this. University management was to meet residents to discuss a business literacy programme but the meeting had not gone ahead.

“Our agreement was that we would base our engagement on mutual respect,” he said.

“We are concerned that the group has broken away from the agreement.”

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Alwin Labans said: “A group of three hundred protesters blocked roads early in the morning in Missionvale.There were no arrests made and no casualties or damage to property were reported.”

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TOPICS:  Government Housing

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