29 November 2018

South Africa: Westville Residents Threaten Further Protests

Some residents of Westville informal settlement in Port Elizabeth are pushing the municipality to relocate them, citing their poor living conditions: dangerous informal electricity connections, rampant crime, and a lack of roads and toilets. Other residents do not want to be relocated and they held protests last week, demanding a meeting with the mayor. Four vehicles were torched in the protest and police arrested two people for public violence.

Executive Mayor Mongameli Bobani finally addressed the feuding parties on Friday and promised to develop the area. He told residents: "I have met with your committee and agreed on three issues, namely repositioning of your sites, electricity supply, and creating a fair beneficiary list."

Head of infrastructure and engineering at Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality Andile Lungisa said, "This program depends on your cooperation. If you refuse to move from your site to pave way for servicing the land, then it will take time to develop this area. We have developed informal settlements in Wells Estate, Ikamvelihle, Vista informal settlement and Winnie Mandela Village, because they were cooperating."

Committee chairperson for the Westville residents, Vuyisile Mantewu, said, "We agreed with the municipality last Friday that they would come and start developing the area on Tuesday, but they haven't come. We have been phoning the officials to no avail. I am afraid we will be forced to start protesting again because our grievances are being undermined. People are angry that most of the informal settlements have been serviced but we remain in this position."

Westville was established in 2000 by people not included in the Kwadwesi housing project.

Nozigqibo Ntanga said she would like to be relocated immediately. Her 32-year-old son was electrocuted two years ago by an illegally connected cable. "I have bad memories of this place. Every day the tragic scene comes into my mind. I have been here for many years."

Natnag said, "We have held several meetings with previous and the current municipality managers and nothing has come out. The same will happen with Bobani's promises. It's just a waste of time."

But Thembinkosi Ndzima wants the municipality to build a house for him in Westville on his current plot. "I arrived here in 2001. I am originally from New Brighton. I like this place because it is close to the main road and I have fond memories of it. My son was two years old when we came here but he is now grown up. We need water, electricity and paved roads," said Ndzima.

Bobani did not respond to GroundUp's inquiries.

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