Durban – eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede attended the opening of a sports centre while police and Foreman Road informal settlement community members clashed over promises she apparently made.
Gumede was at the opening of a sports centre in Waterloo near Verulam, north of Durban, while police and the community clashed after building material that the municipality promised, weren’t delivered.
A fire razed a large part of the informal settlement on Sunday, leaving three dead and at least 1 000 homeless.
The mayor’s spokesperson, Mthunzi Gumede, told News24: “The mayor has apologised because she has other commitments. There is an opening of a sports centre as we speak.”
He said there was a delay in the delivery of the building material promised because of “technicalities”.
“There are some technicalities regarding the materials that they were supposed to get. We have a team dealing with the materials [issue]. We do not have the information [on what the technicalities were]. A team is dealing with that.”
According to Mqapheli Bonono, a resident in the area and a representative of Abahlali baseMjondolo, a shack dwellers’ movement, the mayor had promised to deliver the goods.
“She sent the PR councillor Mr Nzimbomvu here and he assured us it would be sent by today. Earlier they told us she would come. Ward committee members said they met with her and she was on her way. We assembled and waited for her. Then at the last minute they said she would not make it.”
Bonono said he had made a recording of the councillor saying the mayor promised to deliver materials.
“We got a call just before 13:00 saying the mayor would not come. We are getting so many false stories and then police come for us. But I have the evidence. We can even play it for them to prove it.”
Police fired tear gas and stun grenades at the crowd gathered on Clare Road, a busy main road in Clare Estate.
‘They kill for our votes’
Residents on Wednesday told News24 of the horrific scenes that played out during Sunday’s fire.
A neighbour of the deceased family of three, Mzimasi Nomvete, said flesh had come off the bones of 2-year-old Sisipho Xulu, the first victim of the fire. His parents, Eric Mpanza and Mfikiseni Ntuli, would later succumb to their injuries in hospital.
The fire is suspected to have started after a candle tipped over in a shack.
Bonono, a resident of Foreman Road for more than 15 years, explained that there had been numerous promises of electrification for the poverty-stricken community.
“This time around people are very angry. They just want to live lives of dignity. We see all these people coming here during elections. They kill for our votes. But who is here now? Where are all the politicians?”
Municipal spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa previously said the municipality was ready and had resources to begin electrifying Foreman Road informal settlement.