Cape Times: Backyard dwellers mount own protest

Backyard dwellers mount own protest

Mzoxolo Budaza

WHILE Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille addressed a meeting with backyarder representatives at the Civic Centre, Abahlali baseMjondolo were protesting in Khayelitsha.

“Those who attended that meeting (at the Civic Centre) are the friends of the city. The suffering people are here with us,” Abahlali spokesman Mzonke Poni said.

Early yesterday De Lille had moved her scheduled meeting with the backyarders from Oliver Tambo Hall to the Civic Centre after Abahlali threatened to force her to allow all concerned inside the hall.

In reaction, Abahlali rallied about 100 backyarders from Delft, Gugulethu, Mandela Park, Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha outside Oliver Tambo Hall.

Poni said the city’s decision to invite only three representatives from each organisation did not constitute participatory democracy. “We will do everything in our power to make sure De Lille listens to our grievances,” Poni said.

They would continue protesting and engaging different stakeholders until De Lille agreed to address all of them.

“We will write a letter to Helen Zille so that she could apply pressure on De Lille. We will also engage the chamber of commerce because businesses are allies of the city. They also get affected when people protest. Golden Arrow also gets affected by protests – we will engage them too,” he said.

The backyarders were singing and chanting slogans. Some of their placards read: “Patricia is a sellout”, “Patricia is a disgrace” and “We want land and houses in Camps Bay and Constantia”.

The Cape Times visited some of the backyarders’ homes. In Langa’s Special Quarters, Nosiphiwo Siko shares a one-roomed house with six members of her family, including three children.

Siko said her family had been staying there for seven years. “We don’t have privacy, some of us have to sleep on the floor while others use the bed,” Siko said.

De Lille’s spokesman, Solly Malatsi, said the city had invited representatives of more than 54 backyarder organisations including Abahlali baseMjondolo.

“We take all organisations that are interested in finding meaningful solutions seriously. We invited a limited number of people (three from each organisation) so that we could have a meaningful discussion.” – Independent Cadet News Agency