The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) met with various associations to find solutions to the spate of violent service delivery protests by residents of the Siqalo informal settlement, which reached a tipping point this week. Siqalo residents protested over service delivery and housing issues on Jakes Gerwel drive on Tuesday night, with some demonstrators destroying property and looting a petrol station and fruit and vegetable vendor. The protests have raised the ire of Mitchell’s Plain residents, who took to the streets last night to demand an end to the Siqalo demonstrations.
On Thursday, representatives of the Siqalo community, the Housing Assembly, Hawkers against Crime, Mitchell’s Plain United Residents Association and other bodies came together to discuss a solution to the crisis, amid concerns that protests on both sides could escalate further.
In a joint statement issued, the organisations noted the failure of the City of Cape Town to provide housing and services for residents , which is at the heart of the protests.
“The City knew about conditions in Siqalo for the past 7 years; they were aware 2 ½ years ago that the owner of the land was prepared to sell it to the City or swop it for alternate land. Having 13 taps, no electricity and inadequate sanitation in Siqalo is not acceptable,” said the statement.
The associations also raised concerns over the thousands of backyard dwellers and residents being on the waiting list for long periods, often more than 20 years. This backlog, it noted, is an endemic problem across the city.
The organisations re-affirmed the decision by the Siqalo community on Wednesday to suspend their protest to allow urgent talks between community representatives facilitated by the MJC and jointly take the broader community’s grievances to the City of Cape Town.
The meeting confirmed that Siqalo residents and the broader Mitchell’s Plain communities “are not enemies of each other but rather have common grievances” and it can only be resolved if they work together along the lines of non-racism and non-violence.
The Siqalo community and Mitchells Plain residents both raised the alarm on the closures of a drugdens in its area, given the scale of gang violence and substance abuse addiction in the greater Mitchells Plain area. Both parties called on the relevant government authorities to act decisively in all cases.
According to the meeting, the Siqalo Committee stated it that has never had any issue with the broader community of Mitchell’s Plain and guarantees the safety of anyone passing through the roads in front of Siqalo.
There was an agreement that Siqalo and Mitchell’s Plain United Residents Assocation (MURA) and other community organizations will urgently meet to work out a joint programme of action in a united front.
“We call for calm within our communities and that due respect be shown to the safety of all people and property. We further call for an end to all forms of violence and vigilantism. Lastly, we call on the South African Police Services (SAPS) to fulfil their mandate of ensuring the safety and security of all communities,” read the statement further.
A follow-up meeting will be called in the next few days.