Category Archives: Patricia de Lille

Open Letter to Mayor Patricia de Lille regarding her failure to receive our memoranda and treat us with dignity

Open Letter to Mayor Patricia de Lille regarding her failure to receive our memoranda and treat us with dignity

Dear Mayor Patricia de Lille,

Re: failure to receive our memoranda and treat us with dignity

As shackdwellers from Sweet Home, Samora Machel and Langa TRA, we would like to express our shock and extreme displeasure at the way you have treated us by refusing to accept our memoranda during our march on the 1st of October 2012.

Almost 500 of us decided to march on the Mayor, the Premier and the offices of the Housing Development Agency to show how we are being ignored by the government when they fail to engage with our legitimate grievances. Despite this, you as the Mayor continues to ignore us, disrespect us, and undermine us.

When we organised the march, city officials called on us to meet with them at the Civic Centre as required by legistlation. These officials agreed to help facilitate our march from Salt River Train Station to the Civic Centre, the Provincial Parliament and HDA. However, at the last minute, without even consulting with us, our march was re-routed forcing us to begin at Keisergraght and to not go to the Civic Centre. We assume this was a political move by the City to prevent us from coming to your office.

Officials did assure us, however, that the City would still meet us at the provincial parliament to receive our memorandum.

This unilateral re-routing of the march is a violation of the 1993 Gatherings Act and shows how our Constitutional right to march and gather when we want and where we want is being assaulted from – Marikana to Durban to Cape Town. We feel shamelessly undermined by the City of Cape Town which had no good reason to prevent our march from Salt River Station.

Expectations not fulfilled

The purpose of our march as poor shackdwellers not aligned to any political party was to meet the Premier and the Mayor who are responsible for ensuring that government talks to us and works with us. Yet, neither the Premier nor yourself in the capacity as the Executive Mayor of our City feel that we are important enough to accept our memoranda in person.

Furthermore, Mayor Patricia de Lille, you have shown us the most disrespect because you did not even bother to send over a representative from your office to accept the memoranda in your place. We have proof that you have been informed that we requested you to receive our memoranda on the 1st of October and you have even replied acknowledging receipt of our request (see the attached email correspondence).

Instead you kept us waiting outside the Provincial Housing Department and we eventually, reluctantly, agreed to request that MEC Madikizela forward our memoranda to your office.

This type of behaviour is shocking to us! Do you think so little of us poor shackdwellers that you don’t even recognise us as human beings?

We don’t know if you and your fellow government officials will even respond to us or address our demands which we have attached for you. You will probably just throw it in the dustbin with the memoranda from all the other protesting communities in the City of Cape Town. You’re officials will probably continue to ignore our emails and phone calls when you fail to provide us with the services promised to us.

Just in case you do bother to read it, we have attached our memoranda. If you fail to respond and to meet with us within 14 days, we will be returning to your office.

Lulama Magadla (084 433 8461,

On behalf of:
Sweet Home shack settlement
Samora Machel informal settlements forum
Abahlali baseMjondolo baseLanga TRA

M&G: Apolitical truth about civil disobedience

Apolitical truth about civil disobedience

Cape Town shack dwellers’ anger is about a lack of service delivery and is not politically motivated.

Over much of this past winter, communities in shack settlements across Cape Town took to the streets in some of South Africa’s most active civil-disobedience protests since 1994.

The protests gave rise to a great deal of commentary and finger-pointing. I was disturbed by the double standard of the political rhetoric of politicians and some nongovernmental organisations in the way they expected the protesters to react in response to the violence the state and police subjects them to on a daily basis.

I was also concerned about the way these bigger political players moralised the debate, which shifted the focus from the perfectly legitimate issues of service delivery and meaningful engagement raised by the protesters to a soap opera in which analysis was replaced by empty electoral hyperbole.

Three weeks ago, I met community members from one of the protesting shack settlements, one of those that politicians were holding up as a key example on the issue. Talking to the committee members of Sweet Home Farm, an informal settlement of 15 000 people in the Philippi area, revealed a yawning chasm between what the official players are saying about Sweet Home and the realities on the ground.

I began to research Sweet Home, visiting the settlement a number of times and talking to committee members, ordinary residents, members of a rival committee and anyone who knew anything about the social and political make-up of the area.

My findings were shocking. Not least because it showed that Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille was wrong when she insinuated that the ANC Youth League was involved in co-ordinating the protests at the settlement. They were also surprising because they showed that neither the youth league nor any other organisation affiliated to the ANC was a participant in the protests. In fact, community members were not only protesting against the City of Cape Town and its Democratic Alliance (DA) representative, they were also taking to the streets because they were angry with their ANC councillor and his relationship with a local henchman.


My discussions with people on the ground quickly revealed that the protests were not instigated or organised by any political parties but, rather, were the result of the shack dwellers’ indignation at the way in which their dignity was routinely affronted by politicians and government officials. Even the residents who vote for the DA in elections were protesting and they were doing so with full knowledge of the political contradiction of such actions.

As Nobanazi, a single mother of three, made clear to me when I interviewed her: “We are not fighting because we want to mess things. We are fighting because we are struggling. Inside our hearts there is no peace.”

Nobanzi is not a politician, a revolutionary, an “anarchist” or even a “hooligan”. She also does not condone the destruction of property. And yet she participated in the mass civil disobedience, which blockaded roads and destroyed traffic lights, because she felt that this was the only way she and others could get the attention of government.

Here is a list of some of the reasons why Sweet Home residents believe they have been forced to protest in a manner that seeks to cause disruption by, for example, blockading roads and destroying property:

  • Their garbage is not taken away every week as it is in other parts of the city, leaving the settlement extremely dirty, unattractive and unhygienic;
  • Most of their toilets are broken, leaking or otherwise unsanitary;
  • The homes of only some residents have been connected to electricity;
  • The open-air sewage canals built by the city are unsanitary and unsafe for children to play in. A nearby business has blocked the canal, with the result that raw sewage floods into homes when it rains;
  • The unsanitary conditions are a threat to the health of residents, particularly children and the elderly;
  • They are angry at Ward 80 councillor Thembinkosi Pupa for not working with them to meet their needs and for ignoring residents when they attempt to engage on issues; and
  • They are angry at the mayor and other City of Cape Town officials for ignoring them and failing to engage meaningfully with the community on urgent development issues.

    It is clear that the protesters are responding to the structural violence of the state, to the structural violence of a society that hates the poor, that denies them livelihoods and leaves them landless, homeless and living in appalling conditions.

    South African society shoots protesters already damaged by poverty, massacres workers already victimised by their bosses and is so unabashedly violent that it calls for yet further militarisation in our workplaces and in our communities.

    Shack dwellers

    As they did at Marikana, the police have surrounded Sweet Home and other shack settlements such as Barcelona, Europe and BM Section to deter future road blockades.

    Yet they cannot stop all shack dwellers from taking to the streets all the time. In fact, just last week, shack dwellers from the small railway town of Touws River took to the streets and blockaded the N1 freeway for much of the day.

    In Cape Town alone, there are hundreds of shack settlements whose residents are fed up with the conditions in which they live. Any one of them could rise up in protest at any moment.

    A state that treats the most oppressed people in society as if they were some sort of internal enemy, funded by a mysterious third force, is a state that is completely failing to address the gross inequalities in our society. Such an approach to governance shows that South Africa is engaging in a new kind of colonialism.

    The conspiracy theories that NGOs and politicians peddle to try to explain away the rising tide of protest in Cape Town have little to do with reality and are a further affront to the dignity of the city’s poorest residents.

    Neocolonial policing methods may contain protest here and there, but they are not capable of stopping it altogether.

    Only a response by government that acknowledges the dignity of poor black South Africans and actually attempts to work with them to address their grievances can possibly stem the tide of these protests. Until then, De Lille will merely be using the police to play musical chairs with protesting shack dwellers.

    Click here to read the full report.

  • Open Letter: ‘Langa housing projects a mess of corruption and mismanagement’

    'Langa housing projects a mess of corruption and mismanagement'

    To MEC for Human Settlements, Bonginkosi Madikiza
    To Operations Manager of the N2 Gateway project for HDA, Bosco Khoza
    To Cape Town Mayor, Patricia de Lille

    Attached you will find a letter from the provincial executive of Abahlali baseMjondolo detailing some of our concerns and grievances. The situation in Langa is a ticking time-bomb. We hope that you will come meet with us as soon as possible to address them rather than pass the buck to someone else.

    Forward with the struggle of the poor, forward!

    Thembelani Maqwazima (AbM General Secretary) @ 0712604119

    Continue reading

    West Cape News: Mayor called to intervene in housing corruption

    This article was also published in The New Age.

    Mayor called to intervene in housing corruption

    by Francis Hweshe

    Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille has been requested to intervene in the alleged ongoing corruption at the Temporary Relocation Area (TRA) in Langa.

    Housing activists there have alleged that community leaders in Langa are illegally selling houses set aside for people from Joe Slovo informal settlement who are being moved to make way for new housing developments in the area.

    The TRA dwellings are allegedly being sold for prices in the region of R2 500.

    The allegations were raised after Thandeka Ngcelwa, an epilepsy sufferer who was officially allocated a TRA house, returned home on Friday 13 July to find the lock on her door replaced and all her belongings on the street.

    Housing and anti-eviction organisation Abahlali baseMjondolo alleged that community leader Zukisani Sibunzi had moved someone else into Ngcelwa’s house, an allegation Sibunzi has denied.

    Today Ngcelwa had still not got her house back and is staying at her brother’s house.

    Abahlali baseMjondolo on Monday sent a letter to De Lille, requesting that she visit the Langa TRA where there was a “crisis of corruption and misallocation of government built shacks”.

    “Rightful residents are being evicted (such as in the case of Thandeka Ngcelwane) and political party connected individuals are being allocated multiple shacks and RDP houses in the N2 Gateway project,” the organisation claimed.

    The organisation has threatened to take “alternative action” if De Lille does not respond to the letter within seven days.

    Abahlali baseMjondolo activist Cindy Ketani said the operations manager of the Housing Development Agency (HDA) implementing the housing project, Bosco Khoza, on Monday sent letters to people illegally occupying TRA houses notifying them they would be evicted in seven days.

    But she says she suspects the HDA of protecting corrupt community leaders who continue to misallocate houses.

    She said a woman had approached her recently to confess she had bought a house for R2 500 from community leaders but had not received it and had now been given her money back.

    She was also concerned that people who were rightfully occupying TRA houses received letters notifying them of impending eviction.

    Khoza could not be reached for comment.

    De Lille’s spokesperson Solly Malatsi said the Mayor had received Abahlali baseMjondolo’s letter and would “apply her mind” before responding.

    Asked if she would go out and meet with the people, he said that he would not want to pre-empt her response. – Francis Hweshe

    Bush Radio: Abahlali baseMjondolo turns to the Mayor

    Mluleki Mrwebi
    23 July 2012

    Abahlali baseMjondolo in the Western Cape have written a letter of grievances to the Mayor of Cape Town Patricia de Lille.

    The organisation highlighted some issues regarding their living conditions.

    The organisations Cindy Kentani said that no one seem to understand and consider the organisation.

    Kentani added that they have been trying to talk to the councillor but all that efforts were in vain