The ward councillor of the Parkwood area, who was removed from his home for safety during violent protests over the weekend has come under fire by the community, amid accusations that he is fulfilling his duty to the community and not conveying how urgent demand for housing in the area.
Violent protests erupted over the weekend by protesters who have been backyard dwellers for many years, and due to the frustration, invaded a piece of land next Prince George Drive. Hundreds of residents had taken to the streets to vent their anger and frustration and demand housing and land for the backyard dwellers. They demonstrated by throwing petrol bombs, burning tyres, throwing stones at police and law enforcement officials, while blocking off the road to prevent them from entering.
William Akim, the ward councillor of Ward 66 which includes Parkwood, said that the Parkwood backyard dwellers, the landless and the homeless had a peaceful protest which he was invited to attend. He said he received the memorandum, for Premier of the Western Cape Helen Zille, MEC for Human Settlements Bonginkosi Madikizela.
“After delivering the memorandums I called the leaders and informed them that the minster will respond within 3 days. Yesterday morning at about 7:30 am, I received WhatsApp messages and phone calls, informing me that some protesters are protesting at my house which is also in Parkwood. I then had to send my family to my mother’s house and I had to leave the area,” said Akim.
He said that when he returned to the area, he noticed tyres being burnt on his property, but fortunately the protesters was stopped by community. He then had a meeting with the leaders informing them of the outcome.
“It’s very difficult to identify who is responsible for the vandalising. The community centre and housing office was robbed and damaged. I need to give credit to the other residents who had informed me that they are aware of who is responsible. I told them that they need to inform the police,” he said.
Akim said a resident from the area had returned the microware, two plated stove and all the files that was stolen from the Parkwood Housing Office. He stressed how violence and vandalism will not solve the community’s problem.
“I do believe that housing is a national problem, and we need to find the land to build the houses. There are people who have been on the housing list for more than 20 years, and you need to be on the list for a house. We understand that the tenants who are renting from the council are exploiting the backyard dwellers,” he said, adding that some backyard dwellers are charged up to R700 per month for rental.
He affirmed that City is rolling out water meters, toilets, and electricity for the backyard dwellers.
“We need to clarify if there are indeed 15 000 backyard dwellers, as about 4-years ago a survey was done to determine the amount of backyard dwellers in the area. Many illegal structures are being erected without the City knowledge,” he explained.
According to the councillor the second phase for the new roll out of services for the backyard dwellers will commence in July 2018. VOC