Hunger strike halted after response from presidency

Roscoe Jacobss hunger strike came to an end last weekend.

Hangberg youth activist Roscoe Jacobs stopped his hunger strike on Saturday July 7 after representatives from the presidency, he says, addressed his concerns.

Mr Jacobs implored President Cyril Ramaphosa to help the Hangberg community find land for decent housing (“Hangberg youth activist on hunger strike”, Sentinel, July 6).

President Ramaphosa’s political adviser, Steyn Speed, called Mr Jacobs on Saturday and once written confirmation was received, the hunger strike was suspended.

“They recognised the need for a co-ordinated approach in dealing with the challenge of land and decent housing and committed to get the ball rolling. I also engaged with the head of Housing Development Agency (HDA) for the Western Cape, Bosco Khoza,” Mr Jacobs said.

The meeting with Mr Speed took place at the ANC constituency office in Hout Bay on Monday July 9.

“In attendance was Mr Speed and another adviser to the Presidency, Dr Olive Shisana. I invited (local community member) Natasha Meter as well,” said Mr Jacobs.

“In the meeting, I explained my logic behind the hunger strike, telling them that I had gone down this route because I did not want to see another public protest that only perpetuated more violence damage,” he said.

Mr Jacobs said the City of Cape Town often blamed some national government departments or agencies for holding up housing development in Hout Bay, and that led to a further “state of despair”.

“I told them that projects in Hout Bay happened in isolation and this hampered the vision for an integrated Hout Bay, and only enforced the apartheid spatial planning currently in place.”

Mr Speed and Dr Shisana, he said, had recognised the urgent need for housing and committed to a follow-up meeting in two weeks.

“I was on my hunger strike for a week. I am glad my government listened to me, which I knew they would,” he said.

“It is unfortunate for us that this action was required, but I think it’s important that we don’t just sit back and wait for things to happen.

“We send out communications to them, but because the government is busy in other communities, you do have to remind them to follow up.

“After you’ve done the initial action, you need to keep at them because they need to be held accountable.”

Queries sent to the Presidency and HDA on Tuesday were not responded to at the time this edition went to print.