South Africa: Vehicles Torched As Philippi East Residents Demand Toilets

A bus was set alight during a protest for toilets and taps in Philippi.

Three vehicles including a Golden Arrow bus were set alight during a protest in Philippi East on Wednesday morning. Residents from Siyangena, a new settlement which started in February last year are demanding basic services, and are alleged to have been responsible. The protest was triggered by the removal of illegal connections by a security company.

"We are not asking for electricity, as we know that takes time," explained resident Bulelani Mfisa. "It cannot be that other areas have water and toilets, yet we have nothing." Mfisa was referring to Ramaphosa informal settlement, which has portable toilets and taps.

The residents say they have been writing to both their local councillor Mboniswa Chitha and the municipality to request action. "There must be an improvement and the only language our leaders understand is protest," said Mfisa.

Resident Ntombozuko Ntwanambi said relieving themselves could be dangerous. "We walk long distance to relieve ourselves and it becomes unsafe at night. The municipality must bring us toilets. It's winter now."

The protest led to road closures. The City's Traffic spokesperson, Richard Coleman, said New Eisleben Road was closed between Govan Mbeki and Sheffield Roads. A Golden Arrow bus, a City of Cape Town truck and a Fidelity security company light duty vehicle were set alight.

South African National Civic Organisation chairperson in the area, Lindikhaya Payiya, said residents had been patient for too long. "It is important that we be the voice of the people and we have been writing to the mayor about the informal settlements in Philippi that need basic services. Water and toilets, that is all that they need at the moment."

Chitha sent a representative to address the residents. The representative said a meeting was scheduled for Saturday and that she could not speak to the media about the matter at this time. The councillor was in meetings all day.

Bronwen-Dyke Beyer, spokesperson for Golden Arrow Bus services, said there were no passengers in the bus when it was torched. "Golden Arrow can confirm that a bus was set alight this morning and was completely burnt out. At this stage the motive is unknown but there were protests taking place in the vicinity. The driver is suffering from shock."

Police captain Frederick van Wyk confirmed the torching of the vehicles and that there were no injuries. He said a public violence case was registered for investigation.

The City had not responded to GroundUp's inquiry at the time of publishing.

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