Category Archives: Michael de Vries

Clamour rises for shelter, services

Clamour rises for shelter, services
September 15, 2005

By Carvin Goldstone and Michael de Vries

A march in Durban yesterday championing the plight of the poor was the first in a series of new united protests countrywide against the government’s failure to provide basic services.

Close to 5 000 people marched from the Kennedy Road informal settlement to the offices of eThekwini councillor Yakoob Baig in Sydenham demanding services.

The protesters have called for Baig’s resignation because of a “lack of housing and service delivery” in Sydenham and surrounding areas.

Yesterday’s march, part of a protest movement that is becoming one of the biggest since the fight against apartheid, brought together a range of diverse civic society organisations from across the country in a demonstration of solidarity against the country’s lack of services.

A similar march demanding housing and basic services has been scheduled to take place in Khayalitsha in Cape Town this Saturday and Durban civic and community organisations have already pledged support for it.

KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern and Western Cape have all staged marches over housing and services during the year.

University of KwaZulu-Natal sociologist Richard Pithouse said the Kennedy Road informal settlement march was part of a housing protest that had developed into a sustained mass movement.

He said the movement was not party political but based on a community structure which had first begun as an informal movement to provide food for the poor and a creche for the children.

Pithouse said the movement was peaceful and “part of the biggest post apartheid mobilisation”.

Thousands of homeless people, informal settlers and municipal flat dwellers from across the city joined hands with protesters from the Kennedy Road, Sydenham, Burnwood and Clare Estate areas to march for land, houses, reduced municipal flat rates and
toilets.

The march was the third undertaken by residents of the Kennedy Road and surrounding informal settlements this year. They complain their marches have as yet achieved no results.

Kennedy Road community leader S’bu Zikode said the march was also a call for the resignation of eThekwini Ward 25 ANC councillor Yakoob Baig “within the next two weeks”.

Ward 25 has several informal settlements where people have lived in shacks for up to 20 years. Baig has been accused of breaking promises to provide housing and services.

But the councillor denies the accusations and yesterday gave The Mercury a memorandum signed by six community leaders pledging their support for him and praising him for the work he had done in the community.

The work included providing piped water to every informal settlement and facilitating two housing projects in Ward 25.

However, protesters at yesterday’s march told a different story.

The protesters, carrying placards, assembled in a park opposite Baig’s office and held a mock funeral service for the councillor. At the centre of the gathering was a makeshift coffin with Baig’s name written on it in bold red letters.

After the ceremony they handed a memorandum of demands to him. The memorandum called for sanitation, electricity, health facilities and a reduction in muncipal rates for living in flats.

Baig signed the memorandum at the door of a police Casspir under heavy police guard.

Zikode said if there was no progress soon the protests would be intensified. He said people would begin taking services by force, beginning with operation Khanyisa which was taking electricity by force.

Desmond D’sa of the Wentworth Development Forum said there was a feeling that the poor were neglected and over-looked by local government.

Zelda Norris, who represented people living in council flats in Sydenham Heights, said the municipality needed to write off the arrears of poor people living in municipal flats and bring down muncipal flats rates. City Manager Michael Sutcliffe said there had been service provision across Durban and the city had discussed services with communities.