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Hout Bay youth activist suspends hunger strike

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Hout Bay youth activist Roscoe Jacobs has suspended his hunger strike after seven days. Jacobs embarked on a hunger strike after President Cyril Ramaphosa failed to respond to his open letter, which was sent on June 17 this year, in which he outlined the struggle for land and adequate housing by residents in Hout Bay. While the details of the meeting are to be confirmed by the presidency, Jacobs confirmed that the meeting is expected to take place on Monday afternoon.

The presidency on Saturday morning agreed to a meeting between Jacobs and an advisor of the president, Steyn Speed. But, Jacobs agreed to suspend the hunger strike on condition that the presidency provides written proof that it will engage with the community on Monday. He received official word from the presidency via email at 15h00 on Saturday and immediately suspended his strike action.

“I have also had an opportunity to engage with the Ministry of Human Settlements nationally [and] they have also shown their commitment to ensure that these concerns that I have raised are addressed and taken forward.

“I am happy that the national government is really heeding the call and they are showing that they are there for us as the people. It is just sad that I had to go through this to get them to come to the party,” Jacobs stated.

As an initiative that he has personally embarked upon to raise the concerns of the community, Jacobs said he does not want the process to be hijacked by others.

“The meeting would obviously be where is best to meet, so we will decide amongst ourselves – it’s not confirmed that the meeting would be in Hout Bay or outside of Hout Bay,” he added.

Considered a contentious name among locals, Jacobs said the title of Hangberg, as the area is often referred to, implies that residents in the Sentinel Mountains are not part of the broader Hout Bay community.

“The name of Hangberg came about in the 2010 riots…I am not just doing this for the Hout Bay harbour area of Hout Bay, but I am also doing this for  Imizamo Yethu, because we are facing similar challenges.

“It’s about the poor and working class people of Hout Bay that needs to have integrated human settlements – we need to be living next to each other; rich poor, black, white, coloured and Indian.

Jacobs is also the former regional coordinator of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League in the Dullah Omar Region of Cape Town. He currently serves as the deputy chair of the ANC in Hout Bay and as the secretary of the Hout Bay Civic Association.

He said he decided to raise his concerns outside of the ANC structures in a bid to separate the state and the ruling party, adding that “the president is the president of the whole country.”

“We have raised these issues as a community through various structures and various platforms. We have been raising it though governmental structures and as the ANC branch we have also been raising these issues through ANC structures.

“So we have been raising our issues internally, it has been heard and there are things that are being addressed and being resolved. It is just that for me, things are taking too long.”

Jacobs suspended his hunger strike by consuming custard following a week of surviving on only fluids.

Having embarked on his strike outside the sports centre, he has forgone any necessities and luxuries of staying in his own home.

Only having had his vitals tested during the hunger strike, Jacobs said he expects to be checked by a doctor soon.

“I have been sleeping in a dilapidated building on one of these stretcher beds, so it’s just that my body is a bit sore and a bit tired,” he continued.

VOC News has forwarded a request for comment to the presidency and is awaiting response.

A feedback meeting with Jacobs and the community is scheduled to convene at 17h00 on Sunday.

VOC 91.3fm



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