ANC targeted as fires in Hout Bay claim another two buildings

22 July 2017 - 12:54 By Bobby Jordan
Riot cops monitor protesters in Hout Bay on Monday, 03 July 2017.
Riot cops monitor protesters in Hout Bay on Monday, 03 July 2017.
Image: Ruvan Boshoff

Protest action in Hout Bay claimed another two structures on Friday night‚ this time a parliamentary constituency office and the home of an ANC leader.

The fires followed the torching of two other ANC leaders' homes on Thursday night and looting of shops in the Imizamo Yethu area.

The latest troubles are linked to efforts to remove illegal shacks from a site being restored into formal settlement blocks – "super-blocks" – by the City of Cape Town after a fire in March that destroyed more than 5‚000 shacks. On Saturday‚ local ANC leader and parliamentarian Pholisa Makeleni said it was unclear why the ANC was being targeted in the latest protest‚ which appeared to be driven by a group opposed to efforts to upgrade the affected site.

She said the super-blocking initiative had the support of the broader community and a steering committee representing all stakeholders.

“We don't understand where this resistance comes from. It is perpetrated by those who are selfish and don't want something that will benefit everybody‚” Makeleni said‚ adding that opposing sides were scheduled to meet later on Saturday to address the problem. “We really need a lasting solution‚” Makeleni said.

The housing issue has been a political hotbed since 5‚500 informal houses were were destroyed‚ leaving 15‚000 people homeless‚ after a massive fire was driven through the township by a raging south-easter.

On Friday many people did not go to work or to school because they were afraid they might lose their homes due to fire‚ or have their belongings stolen by criminals who would take advantage of the situation.

According to recent media reports‚ resistance against super-blocking is driven by landlords who profited from the previous unregulated shackland‚ illegally renting out informal sites. Efforts to formalise the site could undermine their power.

By midday on Saturday several containers were still smouldering as protest action looked set to continue in the afternoon.

The police could not be reached for comment.