Trees felled across roads as De Lille meeting sparks Hout Bay unrest

23 August 2017 - 15:40 By Aron Hyman
City of Cape Town Mayor and myoral candidate for the Democratic Alliance Patricia de Lille on July 22, 2016 in Cape Town.
City of Cape Town Mayor and myoral candidate for the Democratic Alliance Patricia de Lille on July 22, 2016 in Cape Town.
Image: Gallo Images

Protesting informal settlement residents used chainsaws to chop down trees and barricade roads in a bid to disrupt business in Hout Bay.

Violence erupted in Imizamo Yethu township after a meeting on Tuesday between Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille and the community of Dontse Yakhe informal settlement ended with residents feeling “insulted”.

Police and City of Cape Town law enforcement officials clashed with protesters‚ who used petrol bombs against police. Two people were arrested for inciting public violence.

There were also reports that the protesters were on their way to “fight” with people living in temporary relocation areas set up for the thousands of people who lost houses in the March fire that destroyed large parts of Imizamo Yethu.

“Following reports on imminent protest action and threats of violence in IY last night‚ city security agencies liaised with SAPS and public order policing and we were able to contain and minimise the intended violent intimidation‚” said De Lille’s spokesman‚ Zara Nicholson.

“The mayor remains open to engaging with all community leaders and requested that all leaders join our monthly forum to be part of the discussions and the decision-making process.”

Pamela Sofika‚ who says she is part of a group who claim to represent most of the 15 000 fire victims‚ said De Lille “insulted” them by not being open to discussing “superblocking”.

She is part of a faction of community leaders who oppose the city’s plans to redevelop the informal settlement by dividing it into smaller blocks with space for roads and infrastructure like water and sanitation.

Sofika said “superblocking” would “develop shacks into census shacks”‚ meaning it would formalise and normalise shacks.

She said it was the second time they had been “insulted” by De Lille‚ who did not recognise them asrepresentatives of a large part of the fire-affected community.

She said that their fight was with the city council but admitted that she had to intervene when a group of protesters almost clashed with people living in temporary housing.

“The community members were not targeting anybody‚ they wanted to send a message to Patricia by cutting the tree trunks on the roads‚ to stop the delivery trucks to come so that business in Hout Bay can stop‚” she said.

But other stakeholders and city officials who are familiar with the situation said Sofika stood to gain from the status quo because she was a landlord renting out shacks. She denied the accusations‚ saying she had no tenants in her shack.

Two weeks ago‚ TimesLIVE reported that the violence was the result of a long-standing battle between two factions of community leaders for control over the township.