Protest action by residents in Atlantis turned violent last week, following demands for service delivery.
Clashes between community members and the police saw protestors burning tyres and police retaliating with stun grenades and rubber bullets. As a result, seven people were arrested for alleged public violence.
There was a heavy police presence in the Witsand side of Atlantis, where many residents live in zinc shacks or wooden houses.
Among residents’ demands was electricity for informal housing in the area and the building of a community center. Residents called on the City of Cape Town to immediately begin the construction of a community hall.
According to the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Area North, Councillor Suzette Little, an organisation won a tender last year and the community identified an area they want converted to a community center.
A request was then sent to the City, which stated that if a similar facility was within a 2-5 km radius, this one could not be built. But, this was negotiated by Councillor Little, who received approval in June of this year.
However, Little says the tender simply provided for the building of the four walls and not other essential services.
‘’The community was informed by their leadership, SANCA, that the monies the company gave was not sufficient to build additional services. The company offered to build the four walls. Flooring, ablution and other underground services were not accounted in the money the organisation wanted to spend. That meant that we would need to go and find additional funding,’’ said Little.
Little added that the community was aware of this as a number of engagements between officials, architects and community leadership took place after the approval.
A pamphlet circulated during the protest also called for, among other things, the resignation of a number of councillors and municipal managers, that locals get contract work instead of outsiders and that housing shortages be addressed. The resignations included that of Little.
ANC councillor Fiona Abrahams explained that the hall was intended to house a clinic and a social services office.