South Africa

CAPE TOWN NEWSFLASH

Covid-era shack dweller movement protests over basic services as third wave looms

Covid-era shack dweller movement protests over basic services as third wave looms
Members of the Intlungu yaseMatyotyombeni Movement protest outside the Western Cape legislature building in Cape Town on Monday, 10 May 2021. The protesters were demanding access to basic services such as water and sanitation, housing and electricity, in new Covid-19 era informal settlements. (Photo: Victoria O’Regan)

On Monday morning about 100 people from the Intlungu yaseMatyotyombeni Movement marched to the provincial legislature with the intention of handing over their demands for basic services to Alan Winde, the premier of the Western Cape. Winde wasn’t available but the group vowed to return.

As South Africa moves into the winter season and may soon be dealing with its third wave of Covid-19, members from Intlungu yaseMatyotyombeni Movement (IYM) protested outside the Western Cape legislature demanding basic services. 

“All we need is water, proper sanitation and electricity … this isn’t the first time we’ve made these demands to the City [of Cape Town]. Last year we went to the Civic Centre with the same demands but we were arrested and shot at,” Thembeni Kani told Daily Maverick

Lawyer for the Intlungu yaseMatyotyombeni Movement, Thulasive Twalo greets members of the movement outside the Western Cape legislature building in Cape Town, on Monday, 10 May 2021. (Photo: Victoria O’Regan)

When IYM went to the Civic Centre in November, community members were arrested and Zwelenkosi Ngidi, a wheelchair user, was tipped out of his wheelchair by a police officer while another police officer stood by watching.

“Our demands weren’t addressed that day and that’s why we’re back here today,” said Kani who lives in “Covid-19” — an informal settlement in Mfuleni that was established during lockdown. 

Members of the Intlungu yaseMatyotyombeni Movement, protest for service delivery outside the Western Cape legislature building in Cape Town on Monday, 10 May 2021. (Photo: Victoria O’Regan)

In a previous interview, the co-chairperson of the IYM, Xoliswa Tsholoba told Daily Maverick that Intlungu yaseMatyotyombeni Movement which roughly translates to “the plight of shack dwellers” was formed in August 2020 to help people living in newly occupied areas secure access to basic services.

Since the start of lockdown, about 200 land occupations have occurred in the city of Cape Town. 

“We’re still living through a pandemic and we’re also scared of getting corona so the city needs to provide us with water and sanitation,” said Nomasomi Biyoza. 

Members of the Intlungu yaseMatyotyombeni Movement protest outside the Western Cape legislature building in Cape Town on Monday, 10 May 2021. The protesters were demanding access to basic services such as water and sanitation, housing and electricity, in new Covid-19 era informal settlements. (Photo: Victoria O’Regan)

Bathandwa Gali, a community leader from Phumlani, said that the city needed to also be mindful of the fact that they had occupied land because of Covid-19. So many of us have lost our jobs, we’ve had to move in with relatives and move on to unoccupied land, said Gali. “We’re in these informal settlements because we need housing but we also need electricity and water.  After all, we’re human beings and we should have decent housing,” Gali told Daily Maverick

At a human settlements meeting last year, Riana Pretorius, the director of informal settlements in the City of Cape Town’s Department of Human Settlements, said a number of things needed to happen before an informal settlement can receive basic services. She told the committee that assessments needed to be made and consultations required with the Water and Waste Department.

A woman, part of the Intlungu yaseMatyotyombeni Movement holds a sign at a protest outside the Western Cape legislature building in Cape Town on Monday, 10 May 2021. (Photo: Victoria O’Regan)

At that meeting, Malusi Booi, the Mayoral Committee member for Human Settlements, said that the city was providing basic services to informal settlements, where it can, with a reduced budget.

The group of about 100 people that on Monday congregated at the provincial legislature, clad in their red IYM t-shirts,  wanted to hand over their memorandum to Alan Winde, the premier of the Western Cape, who wasn’t available. 

When the group arrived at the provincial legislature they were met by about a dozen police officers who had barricaded the entrance to the building. 

The group then deliberated as to whether they should stay until Winde avails himself or if they should return at a later date. Almost two hours after the group had arrived outside the legislature, protesters decided to leave and return at a later date.

The Intlungu yaseMatyotyombeni Movement was behind the wave of service delivery protests in March this year, which affected major roads in Cape Town including the R300, the N2 and Baden Powell Drive.  DM

Members of the Intlungu yaseMatyotyombeni Movement protest outside the Western Cape legislature building in Cape Town on Monday, 10 May 2021. The protesters were demanding access to basic services such as water and sanitation, housing and electricity, in new Covid-19 era informal settlements. (Photo: Victoria O’Regan)

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