Outsiders must wait: Cape Town backyarders demand housing

08 August 2019 - 10:59 By Dan Meyer
Residents in Cape Town's Bo Kaap protested against landlessness on Thursday morning.
Residents in Cape Town's Bo Kaap protested against landlessness on Thursday morning.
Image: City of Cape Town

Roads were closed and tyres were burnt as protesters across the city embarked on a "shutdown" of the Cape Town metro on Thursday.

Communities around the Cape were encouraged by the "Gatvol Capetonians" group to protest about housing issues and fight what the group calls "apartheid-style spatial planning". 

The organisation's national spokesperson, Fadiel Adams, said communities should choose how they wished to protest. 

"We have not told any community how to protest or where to protest," he said. "We are not dictating anything to anyone. They must act in a way they see fit. I cannot tell them how to express their frustration," he said. 

Adams urged protesters not to burn anything or throw stones at cars, and said the protest would help highlight the "plight of the poor and landless". 

"We have grannies with great-grandchildren living in back yards, and then people from the Eastern Cape, who are 25, are able to get housing," he said. "They must wait their turn." 

On Wednesday, Cape Town's mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said the city did not have a relationship with the group and, therefore, was in the dark about its demands and the extent to which the protests would disrupt Capetonians' morning commute. 

"The city supports peaceful protest action, but calls on participants to respect the rights of others by not preventing free movement, and to refrain from damaging any public or private infrastructure, or placing any lives at risk," he said.

Clusters of protesters began convening from around 5am.

Roads were closed all around the city, with access to the Bo Kaap area completely severed. Arterial roads were disrupted by the protests, with the south peninsula's Kommetjie Road also closed. Tyres were burnt and traffic brought to a halt at Ocean View. 

Some residents were angered by the closures, with many voicing frustrations on social media.

"We are already having to take a day off work for Eid, then there is a public holiday on Friday," said Tharwah Davids on Facebook. "People are going to lose their jobs over this."