Last week, Makana Municipality experienced two protest actions. The first was a service-delivery protest by eNkanini residents who were demanding electrification. The second was by municipal workers whose petition contained a number of demands.
For now, I will confine myself to the service delivery protest.
eNkanini is a sprawling informal settlement of approximately 1650 shacks on Mayfield farm. Makana Brick, supported by Mayfield Clay, had earlier applied to the court demanding that Makana Municipality should stop the erection of shacks on this land and to evict those already built.
In its defence, the municipality stated that this land belongs to the Provincial Department of Human Settlement.
The leadership of eNkanini and ourselves negotiated with Makana Brick and Mayfield Clay and we arrived at an amicable solution in terms of which they withdrew the interdict. As it is now, there is no threat of eviction. This was explicitly explained to both the leaders and the residents alike. Meanwhile, Human Settlements is in the process of transferring this piece of land to Makana Municipality.
As can be seen, as the political leadership of Makana Municipality we have been engaging with the leaders of this community over a long period of time.
The residents’ initial request was for the provision of clean drinking water. As the municipality we addressed this essential service and we were in the process of extending it further.
eNkanini leaders later requested provision of electricity, as it is dark there and level of crimes are very high. We indicated to the leaders that electricity is delivered only by Eskom and that on our part we shall assist by applying to Eskom for this service.
We were in the process of getting a council resolution when the residents embarked on a service delivery protest.
On Wednesday 6 November 2019, Councillors Nase, Xonxa and myself addressed a group of protesters from eNkanini at around 10pm. This was risky as anything could have happened to any one of us, as it was dark and rainy that evening.
After we spoke to them, the leaders of the residents demanded that we address them at eNkanini at 8am the following morning. This we did.
At this meeting, the residents demanded that we give them a date by when electricity will be installed in the area. Again, we explained that we cannot give a date, as we depend entirely on Eskom for the installation of electricity.
Both councillors Xonxa and Nase were humiliated by the group and were called liars.
At this point, the residents decided they would go and block the N2 until they got a date by which electricity would be installed in the area. Public Order Police dispersed the crowd and the protesters threatened to burn down the house of councillors Xonxa and Nase.
On our part, we remain committed to extending basic services to the residents of eNkanini and all other informal settlements, whatever it takes.