THE grievances of the service delivery protestors at Ekuphumleni, Kenton-on-Sea, are understandable, but their methods are wrong.
Wednesday’s blockade of the R72 and R343 arterial routes past Kenton was deliberately timed to cause optimum disruption of the first day of the new school year.
We received reports that many pupils and some teachers could not get to school as long as the roads were blocked. This affected not only Kenton schools but also those in other areas as staff members commute on the R72.
The latest protest in Kenton – there have been many – involves the provision of RDP houses in a new housing development along the R72.
The housing was promised by the department of human settlements years ago, and when they were slow to deliver the initial protests erupted two years ago.
An initial 20 families were elated last year when the first houses were handed over, and to date 75 have been completed. More than 500 were promised and many are partly built. Residents were informed the provision of electricity was a hurdle still to be overcome as Eskom’s timing was not aligned with the department of human settlements.
Being the local service provider Ndlambe Municipality was, perhaps unfairly, at the coalface of these protests and expected to answer residents’ grievances. The municipality tried to appease, deflect and appeal to province.
There was also controversy over the allocation of houses, and several meetings have been held. Former Ward 4 councillor Zache Ngxingo alleged that friends of the current ANC councillor had been favoured. The municipality denied this.
Matters came to a head again after workers for the main contractor Rucon downed tools complaining they had not been paid since before Christmas. This led to a complete shutdown of the site.
The lack of electricity has again become a sore point for those who have already received houses. Word went out on Tuesday night that a protest would ensue the following day, so police were aware of this.
But it seems the situation is allowed to get out of hand before SAPS actually acts, and then looks like the bully boy. The blockade did not only disrupt the first day of school, but the lives and business of ordinary people trying to get to work or home or the shops.
Worse still was the violence that accompanied the protest – the rocks thrown at passing cars and at the police. One resident has rightly laid a charge of attempted murder after a large rock smashed through his rear windscreen. It could have killed him.
– Jon Houzet