Not my area – adjacent ANC and DA ward councillors disown informal settlement


Protesting residents of Bayland in Port Elizabeth don’t know where to turn

Photo of protesters
Bayland informal settlement residents blocked the R75 Uitenhage Road with burning tyres and storm water pipes on Monday and Tuesday to demand basic services. Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani

More than 200 residents of Bayland informal settlement near Joe Slovo, Port Elizabeth, have been blocking the R75 Uitenhage road with burning tyres, storm water pipes and rocks since Monday. They are demanding electricity, toilets and water.

The settlement exploded after residents discovered that they were not included in the budget tabled at council last Thursday.

They blocked the Algoa Bus Company’s main entrance with burning tyres. Vehicles from Uitenhage, Despatch and Port Elizabeth had to be redirected to Perseverance Road, before Public Order Police dispersed the protesters with rubber bullets.

Bayland was established in 2017 by people from various townships across the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro. Most were backyarders in Joe Slovo. They hired a bulldozer to clear the thick bush in order to erect their shacks. The municipality demolished their shacks at first. Then in 2018, after Former Mayor Mongameli Bobani froze land evictions, the settlement grew rapidly.

Community leader Mabhuti Ndoni said after protests in 2019, officials promised them electricity, toilets and water taps.

“On Friday we went to the office of the Chief Whip and we were told that there was no budget for us and that has angered the residents,” said Ndoni.

“We are about 2,000 shack dwellers and we only received three communal taps. Those taps are at entry points to this area. The rest of the people near Perseverance Road share water from a leaking pipe with cows,” he said.

Mayco Member for Infrastructure Andile Lungisa was not available for comment. But earlier this month, he had advised the residents to liaise with their ward councillors.

Complicating matters further is that the residents do not know which ward they fall under. Ward 41 Councillor Simphiwe Tyukana, whose office is across the Uitenhage Road, was called by police to address the angry residents.

“I told them they don’t belong in my ward. They belong to ward 52, to Councillor Francois Greyling of the DA,” he said. “I promised them that I will assist them and call the relevant officials … But now I am surprised they are [still] protesting.”

But Ward 52 Councillor Greyling (DA) said the community fell under Tyukana. “Definitely not mine. You can see on the ward map,” he said.

Crosby Bacela, assistant regional manager of the Independent Electoral Commission, said it is difficult to tell where the community belongs.

“From 16 March we will roll out a project called Know Your Ward. We will visit all the new informal settlements to resolve the demarcation problems. This will help the councillors too because they don’t know their demarcations … As soon as we take our coordinates in these areas we will be able to tell where they belong.”

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