WATCH | 'Arrogant' or 'provoked'? — Lindiwe Sisulu's public outburst splits Mzansi

07 January 2021 - 10:00
Human settlements, water & sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu. File photo.
Human settlements, water & sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu. File photo.
Image: Trevor Samson

Human settlements minister Lindiwe Sisulu has been criticised for her public outburst during an inspection at the Taiwan informal settlement in Site C, Khayelitsha.

This week, Sisulu visited the informal settlement where a fire on New Year’s Day left 500 residents homeless.

In a viral video taken during the visit, Sisulu can be seen clashing with land and housing activist Nkosikhona Swartbooi, who accused the minister of not keeping her promises of delivering housing and building materials.

Swartbooi can be heard asking Sisulu what had happened to the relief she promised residents of Empolweni, also in Khayelitsha, in April last year after the City of Cape Town demolished shacks at the height of the Covid-19 lockdown.

“Let’s hope, minister, you won’t do the same as at Empolweni. You promised structures to be built, but you never built them ... they are still waiting till this day,” said Swartbooi.

In her response, Sisulu accused Swartbooi of being a liar.

“You are lying! You are lying! You are not going to tape me and talk nonsense. You are talking rubbish. I said to you, I will buy that material. Just switch that off. Switch that off,” Sisulu can be heard saying.

In a separate video, Swartbooi claimed that Sisulu’s bodyguards attempted to confiscate his phone and force him into a car “with men unknown to me and my colleagues”.

In a statement, the minstry claimed that Sisulu was “confronted by a man making unfounded accusations”, which had resulted in an exchange of words.

“In his interaction with the minister during her visit in Taiwan, the man clearly sought to insert himself and score cheap personal credit rather than continue to push and assist the minister who was engaged at the time.

“Minister Sisulu is in consultation with her lawyers and will not be deterred from serving the poorest of the poor and finding a permanent solution for the people of Taiwan, Masiphumelele and other communities across the country affected by similar disasters,” the statement read.

On social media, Sisulu’s outburst drew mixed reactions, with many accusing her of arrogance.

Others defended Sisulu, saying she was “provoked” and was a “hard-working minister with no scandals”. 

Here is a snapshot of some of the reactions: