The “Gatvol Capetonian” group is planning a “shutdown” of many arterial roads and highways leading in and out of central Cape Town on Thursday in protest against issues faced largely by backyard dwellers.
Residents from Parkwood, Factreton, Kensington, Ocean View, Mamre and Paarl are understood to be taking part, although it is not yet clear which areas will be affected and how many people will pitch up for the planned protest between 05.00 and 11.00.
The City’s safety and security mayoral committee member, JP Smith, said they could not predict the extent to which the shutdown would be supported and what impact it would have, as they had not directly engaged with the organisers.
He said the City would provide any support the police service needed with road closures and other public safety measures.
“Western Cape police are aware of the intended action and we have developed a plan to deal with any eventuality in this regard,” Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut confirmed to News24.
The group’s Fadiel Adams said 13 areas had pledged their support.
He said that backyard dwellers indicated in numerous meetings that there was a lack of housing opportunities for coloured people, especially ones which were close to work.
They were also frustrated about the effects of apartheid spatial planning and the continued manipulation of housing lists.
“The main objection of this shutdown will be to highlight people’s frustration with lack of commitment on the part of government in terms of deadlines when houses will be built and delivered,” Adams said last month.
“We urge the public to be sympathetic to the plight of the poor and landless people and acknowledge the fact that this action is just and necessary.”
Western Cape Human Settlements MEC Tertuis Simmers said the proposed shutdown should not infringe on the rights of others, particularly those who might need to get to work, school, health facilities or any other engagements.
He encouraged residents to share their concerns with ward councillors and ensure their details were up to date on the housing database.
Simmers said their resources were focused on three priority areas: upgrading informal settlements and providing basic services; increasing affordable/GAP housing; and prioritising the most deserving people in relation to the allocation of free Breaking New Ground (BNG) houses.
Also prioritised were the elderly, people with disabilities, child-headed households, those who had been on the waiting list the longest, and backyard dwellers.
“Backyard dwellers should know that I’ve heard their pleas and it is for this reason that, at the end of June 2019, I issued an executive directive to all municipalities in the province to include backyarders in their housing allocation criteria,” said Simmers.
Smith also called for a peaceful protest.
“We do not believe it is helpful to limit mobility to already vulnerable communities, as nothing is achieved by that. Such a protest simply harms the community one claims to be wanting to help and further disincentivises investment and job creation in that community as well as preventing residents there from getting to work, preventing service delivery and preventing emergency vehicles from helping the community. We do not believe that this form of protest is in the public interest.”