IY residents unite in their fight for basic services

Toliet facilities and other services are provided at the new site.

Residents of the Shooting Range area of Imizamo Yethu feel the City of Cape Town has broken the “good faith” established in the wake of last month’s fire that displaced about 350 people, heightening tensions among residents.

While members of the Imizamo Yethu Informal Settlements Block Committee Council (ISBCC) – established to unite residents of the Shooting Range, eBhayi and Dontse Yakhe in their fight for basic services – were initially pleased the City
delivered starter kits to victims of the February 12 fire (“Taxis at heart of fire,” Sentinel, February 16), they claim the City has subsequently snubbed them after discussions were held on the roll-out of electricity to the precinct.

Most of the area was left without power after last year’s March 11 fire that left more than 10 000 people home-

“We were pleased that the City helped the victims of last month’s fire. We did notice, however, that the City was going to reconnect electricity to these 190 structures,” said ISBCC chairperson Pamela Sofika.

“The block committee told (ward councillor) Roberto Quintas that it would be better if everyone was reconnected, because we are all fire victims here, whether it was last year’s fire or the one on February 12. He said he would take this suggestion to the City.

“On Friday last week (March 2), two electricity service providers contracted by the City came here. They told me they were sent by the City, and that they had been instructed to install four poles for 20 beneficiaries. I then said to them that this didn’t add up, as prior to last year’s fires there were about 21 or 22 poles servicing the people of the Shooting Range, Dontse Yakhe and eBhayi. There were 15 in the Shooting Range alone.”

She said the service providers had asked her if there
had been a recent fire in Imizamo Yethu, and she said there had been on February 12.

About six poles were needed for the area, she

Ms Sofika took the service providers around the area, pointing out where the poles were located. The service providers then agreed that they would take their report back to the City, as it did not
match up with what they had seen.

“On Monday (March 5), a City representative came back with a crew and trucks carrying four electricity poles. I went to them, asking to explain why there were so few poles.”

She said they had told her the City was acting
on information from SA National Civic Organisa-
tion (SANCO) chairman for the area, Samkelo “Gary” Krweqe.

“I told them there is no Gary here. Samkelo has not even been affected by any fire. Again, it appears we are being controlled by people who have nothing to do
with us. Every time something happens, there are people like Samkelo jumping in when they are not even affected.”

At this point, she said, a City representative on site had “vanished”. The service providers had said they would not do any work until such time as the City had sat down with the block committee for discussions.

Ms Sofika said tensions were “extremely high” in the Shooting Range.

“Everyone has the right to basic services. In 2007, I had electricity, but now I have nothing. The City talks about superblocking and providing services, but it is a lie.”

However, Mr Krweqe said the ISBCC were “opportunists” and Ms Sofika was using the problems of other
people to “advance her own agenda”.

“I have a shack in the area that was burnt on February 12, so I have been consulting with the City to have electricity restored. She (Ms Sofika) and her group are free to consult whoever they want, but they must not involve us. We are different from them,” he said.

The City did not respond to questions by the time this edition went to print.